Class Action Alleges Grindr App Shares User Data with Advertisers Without Consent
Bergeron v. Grindr Inc.
Filed: January 31, 2020 ◆§ 7:20-cv-00875
A class action alleges social networking and dating app Grindr sold user data to advertisers without authorization to do so.
A proposed class action lawsuit alleges the company that runs Grindr, the most prominent social networking and dating app for the LGBTQ community, has “abused the trust” of users by selling their information to the highest bidder without consent to do so.
With regard to how defendant Grindr, Inc. reportedly monetizes its app, the lawsuit says the company partners with a supply-side platform to install software development kits on a user’s app and smartphone. According to the suit, the Grindr app includes software development kits from “multiple” advertising technology companies such as MoPub, a mobile-app ad server owned and operated by Twitter.
The case relays that once the Grindr app is opened, software development kits begin to collect data from a user’s phone. This data, the suit continues, is linked by MoPub with details about a particular user from other sources “such that a person’s real identity can be confirmed.” According to the complaint, non-party MoPub then packages a user’s data and shares the information with advertising partners, known as “demand-side platforms,” who engage in real-time bidding to display ads to the user.
“It is physically impossible to read all of these privacy policies prior to indicating consent because defendant’s app will close automatically within that time period, making compliance impossible,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiff and users are unable to consent and make an informed choice about using defendant’s app and are not informed defendant sells its most private and sensitive information.”
Citing a report from the Norwegian Consumer Council titled “Out of Control: How Consumers Are Exploited by the Online Advertising Industry,” the complaint adds that Twitter in January 2020 began to crack down on Grindr’s access to MoPub-served advertisements amid user privacy concerns.
According to the case, Android users are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to opting out of having their data shared with advertisers. While the iPhone allows users to opt out of interest-based ads, the lawsuit says, the Android operating system reportedly allows an app to continue using a phone’s advertising ID even when a user affirmatively opts out of personalized advertising.
The lawsuit looks to cover Grindr users in all 50 states who run the app on Google’s Android operating system and have used the service “under the false impression regarding disclosure of their private information without their consent.”
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