Popular Dating Apps Are The Latest To Be Hit With Privacy Concerns
Tinder, the popular dating app that revolutionized online dating by allowing users to swipe left or right at potential matches, changed the dating scene forever when it was released in 2012. Tinder's popularity spawned countless copycat dating apps in the years that followed its release.
Of course, it's not news to anyone in 2020 that using mobile phone apps exposes your personal data to countless third parties. However, both United States national security officials and the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) are now warning about the dangers of some of the most popular dating apps.
"Chinese law requires a Chinese company to share any information that it has with the Chinese government if it's asked for that information for national security reasons," John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice said. "The other thing we know is that China is a top-down authoritarian country. So law or no law, if your future livelihood as a business depends on the government's happiness with the way you behave, you're gonna turn over that information."
Last month, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard all banned TikTok following a recommendation from the United States Department of Defense. Grindr hasn't been banned from these branches of the U.S. army; however, as TikTok illustrated, a precedent has certainly been set for using apps owned by Chinese companies.
Separately, a study by the NCC found dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid are sharing sensitive user data that may violate Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The study by the NCC, conducted from June 2019 to November 2019, found user data from these apps moved around between more than one hundred third parties such as Facebook and Google, as well as numerous adtech companies.
The study found Grindr was particularly lax with user data, with Twitter-owned MoPub facilitating much of the transfer of user data to third parties. Advertising partners of MoPub could then distribute the user data, without receiving consent from the users, to other companies.
The study points out that the language of adtech companies' privacy policies are often "incomprehensible" with "questionable legal basis." The GDPR requires users to receive clear and easily understandable information about what they are consenting to and must actively opt in. "In the cases described in this report, none of the apps or third parties appear to fulfill the legal conditions for collecting valid consent," the study said.
While releasing the study, the NCC also announced it is filing formal complaints against Grindr, MoPub, AT&T’s AppNexus, OpenX, AdColony and Smaato for breaches of the GDPR. Companies found to be in breach of the GDPR can face fines of up to 4% of their global revenue.
We will conclude with the quote below from the NCC, which couldn't sum up the state of advertising any more accurately.
"It is time for a serious debate about whether the surveillance-driven advertising systems that have taken over the internet, and which are economic drivers of misinformation online, is a fair trade-off for the possibility of showing slightly more relevant ads."
They finally signed it. Despite hopes of a full, comprehensive trade deal for the last 18 months, the U.S. and China signed a watered-down phase one trade deal yesterday. Some of the highlights of the deal include include commitments from China to halt intellectual property theft, halt currency manipulation, cooperate in financial services and purchase more than $200 billion of U.S. products over the next two years. "Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past," U.S. President Donald Trump said. "It doesn't get any bigger than this." Technically, it does, because they still have to resolve some of the more pressing issues that will be pushed to phase two of the trade deal.
Is the American consumer tapped out? Target reported abysmal same-store sales during the holiday season, with growth of just 1.4% compared with growth of 5.7% a year ago. Target is maintaining its prior outlook for the fourth-quarter, saying the last quarter of 2019 remains on track to be the company's 11th-consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth. "While we knew this season was going be challenging, it was even more challenging than we expected," Target CEO Brian Cornell said.
Cash on the sidelines? BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, saw its assets under management grow to a record $7.43 trillion at the end of last year. BlackRock’s ETFs attracted more than $75 billion of new money in the fourth quarter, bringing the total net inflow for 2019 to $183 billion. Despite the stock market sitting at the highest level in the history of the world, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said "Investor risk is not where I would say overzealous into equities." This cash on the sidelines could potentially fuel the market higher, as Fink added "We still don’t see extreme positioning by clients in equities."
Goldman Sachs and Travis Kalanick have something in common. Just as Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick was dumping the last of his Uber shares at the end of last year, Goldman Sachs was doing the same. Goldman, which reportedly owned about 10 million shares, sold off the last of them before the end of the year. Goldman was an early investor in Uber and reportedly took advantage of the share lockup period ending to close the books on its investment with a significant gain.
A gathering of hypocrites. Ahead of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week, a survey conducted ahead of the gathering found the top five concerns among the attendees are all environmental. The survey of 750 experts and decision-makers found issues such as climate change and environmental destruction are keeping them up at night. Ironically, last year nearly 1,500 private jets descended on the ritzy resort town to discuss the threat of climate change.