Grindr Data Going To China
Will the Chinese government keep records of our Grindr data now that a Chinese government completely owns the company? That’s what several people are wondering at this moment.
Last year, Kunlun Group Limited, a subsection of the larger Chinese video game company Beijing Kunlun Tech, bought out 62% of Grindr for $93 million. Right after that, the company announced that they were interested in buying the rest of Grindr.
Now, it seems that their promise has become reality.
Last week, Beijing Kunlun Tech announced that they would be completely buying Grindr. Not only that, but Grindr’s founder and CEO Joel Simkhai also announced that he would be officially stepping down from his position.
“We have achieved our success because of the strength and global reach of our community,” Simkhai said. “I look forward to Grindr and Kunlun’s continued commitment to building tolerance, equality, and respect around the world.”
That said, the company says that they will keep running as usual even as its original captain jumps ship.
Yahui Zhou, the current chair of Grindr’s board, says that he will be stepping in as interim CEO until they find someone to take Simkahi’s place permanently.
“Looking forward, we are extremely excited about the excellent work Grindr is doing in becoming a leading global technology company, serving and supporting our users no matter where they are in the world,” Zhou said in an official statement.
But again, some are fearing the involvement of the Chinese government once the gay dating app is completely owned by a Chinese company.
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.
“What you can see from Chinese intelligence practices is a clear effort to collect a lot of personal information on a lot of different people, and to build a database of names that’s potentially useful either for influence or for intelligence,” said Peter Mattis, a former U.S. government intelligence analyst and China fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. “Then later, when the party-state comes into contact with someone in the database, there’s now information to be pulled,” he said.
That said, Grindr’s company made quick work of reassuring people that such information will not make its way to the Chinese government.
Grindr’s vice president of marketing, Peter Sloterdyk remarked that “privacy and security of users’ personal data is a top priority.” He also added that “Grindr remains a U.S. company governed and protected by the laws of the United States.”