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Grindr’s Chinese owner forced to sell service over US security concerns, says report

Grindr’s Chinese owner forced to sell service over US security concerns, says report


A rare intervention

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A US government committee has pressured Grindr’s Chinese owner to sell the LGBTQ dating app over national security concerns, reports Reuters. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is reportedly concerned about owner Beijing Kunlun Tech’s access to personal data. The Chinese conglomerate, which also has an ownership stake in the Opera browser, purchased Grindr outright in 2018.

The US has increasingly scrutinised the way apps collect and handle personal data, especially in cases where it involves members of the US Military or intelligence services. Kunlun did not go through the voluntary process of submitting its acquisition of the service to the CFIUS for review, but Reuters notes that it’s rare for the committee to undo an acquisition after it’s been completed.

Grindr collects personal information that can include HIV status

CFIUS has previously blocked the acquisitions of MoneyGram and AppLovin by Chinese firms over security concerns. It is not obligated to reveal its specific reasons for blocking such deals, since doing so could reveal classified information.

Grindr advertises itself as “the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people,” and as of 2017 had around 27 million users worldwide, although it’s unclear how many of these are based in the US. The service’s privacy policy notes that Grindr collects a wide range of personal data including location info, messages, and even HIV status if users choose to provide this information.

Kunlun had previously planned on conducting an IPO for Grindr, but is now reportedly seeking to sell the service to either a US-based investment firm, or else one of its competitors. A representative from Grindr did not immediately respond to a request for comment.