LONDON — Norway is fining gay dating app Grindr $11.7 million for failing to get consent from users before sharing their personal information with advertising companies, in breach of stringent European Union privacy rules.
Norwegian’s data privacy watchdog said Tuesday that it notified the company of its draft decision to issue a fine for 100 million Norwegian krone, equal to 10% of its annual global revenue.
The Data Protection Authority took action following a complaint by the country’s Consumer Council alleging that personal data was shared unlawfully for marketing purposes. The council had detailed in a report last year how Grindr and five partner companies in the online ad industry collect personal data to use for targeted advertising in ways that the council said violated the EU’s tough GDPR privacy rules.
The watchdog came to the preliminary conclusion that Grindr shared user data with a number of third parties without legal basis. The data included GPS location, user profile information and even the fact that users are on Grindr, which could reveal their sexual orientation and therefore merit special protection.
“The Norwegian Data Protection Authority considers that this is a serious case,” said Bjorn Erik Thon, the authority’s director-general. “Users were not able to exercise real and effective control over the sharing of their data.”
Grindr did not respond immediately to an email request for comment from the AP. Its spokesman in Norway, Bjoern Richard Johansen, confirmed to broadcaster NRK that it had received a letter from regulators to notify it of the fine.
“Grindr is looking forward to entering into a dialogue with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority,” Johansen told NRK, but said the company had no further comment.
Grindr has until Feb. 15 to give feedback, which the watchdog will take into account for its final decision.
The privacy watchdog is still investigating five advertising technology companies that received data from Grindr, including one owned by Twitter called MoPub.
Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.
The Associated Press