There’s a popular online “dating” site called; “Grindr” – and it just happens to be the world’s largest gay dating application. No big deal, right?
Well, here’s the potential problem: Experts in National security who know about these kinds of things and former intelligence officials are raising concerns about user data privacy following the acquisition of “Grindr” by… wait for it: a Chinese technology firm.
The Communist Chinese government, our enemy, could be in a position to demand sensitive and embarrassing details on the lives of millions of non-Chinese citizens, because there’s a whole bunch of folks in high places who didn’t think too far ahead when using this service, in that the details might fall into the wrong hands.
So, think about it: You’re a powerful, high-paid, influential somebody – congressman, business owner, athlete, entertainer – and you really, REALLY, don’t want people, especially your family – to know you’re gay.
Could ruin everything. Your career, your marriage – whatever.
You’re completely in the closet and living a double life, until some Chinese dude emails you with some of your profile pics from Grindr and says; ‘hey – what about that missile project you guys are working on? Sure would be great to have some details… or like $100,000 – which ever comes first’…
You get the picture. Anthony Weiner can tell you the whole story if you visit him in prison – and he’s not even gay. I think.
This is the billionaire who bought Grindr…. just after he got divorced… hmm. just sayin’
This week, the Kunlun Group completed a full buyout of Grindr, a gay, bi, trans, and queer dating app that claims 3.3 million daily users. The Chinese firm bought 60 percent of the company in Jan. 2016 for $93 million and has now acquired the remaining stake for $152 million, according to stock filings. Grindr announced that Kunlun executives will take over leadership of the company.
Kunlun Group Limited closed on its purchase of the remaining stake of Grindr LLC from founder Joel Simkhai. Kunlun, one of the largest mobile gaming companies in the world, now has full ownership of the world’s largest gay social network.
Joel Simkhai, the CEO and founder of Grindr, will exit the company, and Yahui Zhou, the chairman of the board of Grindr, will serve as the interim CEO. Additionally, Grindr’s current vice-chairman Wei Zhou has been named as executive vice-chairman and CFO, and former Facebook and Instagram veteran Scott Chen will join Grindr as CTO.
Wow – Facebook and Instagram involved too! What could go wrong?
That announcement set off alarms among officials and experts that track Chinese intelligence and foreign influence operations in the United States. The Chinese government is sweeping up massive amounts of data on not only its own citizens, but also Americans and others, as part of a unique and well-planned effort to build files on foreigners for intelligence purposes.
Grindr’s vice president of marketing, Peter Sloterdyk, said in a statement that the privacy and security of users’ personal data is a top priority for Grindr, which employs state-of-the-art technical means to protect user data over 190 countries. The company has a long record of working with NGOs around the world to give users extra protection, and Grindr has never disclosed any user data to the Chinese government nor does it intend to do so, he said. Grindr remains a U.S. company governed and protected by the laws of the United States, he said.
Under Chinese law, the Chinese government can argue that for “public security” it can compel companies to hand over private information, and it can define “public security” as widely as it wants. They don’t have a pesky “Constitution” – not that we follow ours, but at least we have one.
“What we need is more clarity on the implications of these sorts of purchases and what it means for non-Chinese citizens,” said Kalathil. “At the very least, if you are thinking about blackmailing individuals or compelling people to act in a certain way, that information is incredibly valuable.”
Grindr’s assurances notwithstanding, due to the opaque nature of the relationship between the Chinese government and its large overseas firms, and what we know about the Chinese strategy to collect data on foreigners, the risk to Grindr users that the Chinese government will know their secrets has just increased.
Or maybe it’s just that the Chinese wanted to see a bunch of photos of nude gay American men? Could be. What’s wrong with that I say?
I’ll have the #69 with noodles.. thanks.