Tinder Faces GDPR Probe Following Personal Information Revelations

Do dating services properly handle your personal information? That’s a big question GDPR regulators are trying to answer as they probe Tinder.

The long history of dating websites and personal information is full of issues and questions. The dating service sector of the Internet has had many questions about personal information directed towards them in the last few years. These questions include whether or not dating services allow users to delete their profile or not sell personal information to third parties.

Late last month, some of those old privacy wounds were re-opened after an investigation into the handling of personal information was conducted in Europe. It turns out, sites like Grindr and OK Cupid have been known to sell personal information to third party ad networks. Those revelations ended up sparking some serious legal questions along with allegations that information was not handled properly. Some of that has to do with consent. Dis users properly give consent or did those users simply didn’t know that their information is being sold to third parties? The analysis suggested that this may not have been the case.

Now, we are learning that these revelations have caught the attention of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) regulators. One of the big dating services known as Tinder is now facing a probe from them. From TechCrunch:

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has today announced a formal probe of how Tinder processes users’ personal data; the transparency surrounding its ongoing processing; and compliance with obligations with regard to data subject right’s requests.

The DPC said complaints about the dating app have been made from individuals in multiple EU countries, not just in Ireland — with the Irish regulator taking the lead under a GDPR mechanism to manage cross-border investigations.

It said the Tinder probe came about as a result of active monitoring of complaints received from individuals “both in Ireland and across the EU” in order to identify “thematic and possible systemic data protection issues”.

“The Inquiry of the DPC will set out to establish whether the company has a legal basis for the ongoing processing of its users’ personal data and whether it meets its obligations as a data controller with regard to transparency and its compliance with data subject right’s requests,” the DPC added.

Few would dispute that such personal information is sensitive for many people. Things like dating history, hookup history, and sexual identity can be things that many people don’t want the whole world to know. The idea that something like that is suddenly being bought and sold in the shadows will no doubt come as a rather disturbing revelation. Who knows if that database would wind up on an unsecured server somewhere, exposing this information to anyone out there who looks hard enough.

A risk that the whole sector faces is that people’s trust in these services drops. Questions like, “Why should I blindly trust that app with a good chunk of my sexual history anyway?” could arise. Another question might be, “Do I really want some third party to know I dated, er, ‘that person’, for a week 8 years ago?” For most people, these are not the most comfortable question to ask, but it raises a good point that, up to this point, for a lot of people, that’s what they are doing in the first place. It’s not some innocent little website that will just go away after you marry someone, these are large websites that will likely stick around for years.

If anything, one can only hope that it causes people to rethink what kind of personal information they are freely giving to these sites in the first place. Even better, maybe some of these sites that are more loose with how they handle personal information will rethink, for the better, how best to handle this information in the first place. So, in the end, a lot of good can come out of this. One can only hope something positive can come from all of this in the end.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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