As trade tensions drag on, Grindr under pressure . . .
Looking for a new match? Whether you’re one of Grindr’s 3.6 million daily users, or its China-based owner Beijing Kunlun Tech, which bought Grindr from its U.S. founder through deals in 2016 and 2018, you just might be. Especially after Kunlun said it has agreed to a request by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) to sell the popular dating app for the LGBTQ community to an investor that meets CFIUS standards. The U.S. government panel declared Grindr a national security risk, likely due to the sensitive details contained in Grindr user profiles, including location and HIV status information.
It’s not me, it’s you . . .
While CFIUS has not yet revealed its reasoning behind the Grindr decision, the timing coincides more with the U.S.-China trade and tech war than with any broader, human rights-oriented LGBTQ strategy pursued by the U.S. government. CFIUS rarely cancels completed investments, and U.S. authorities have specifically flagged concerns in the past that people with American security clearances who use the dating app could be blackmailed if China's government demanded user data from Kunlun.
The view from Canada . . .
Many of Grindr’s users are in Canada, and issues of privacy and offshoring of sensitive data to people or entities within China have emerged on social platforms within Canada's LGBTQ communities. Similar communities within China certainly face human rights violations, crackdowns on activists, and social challenges – but China has its own, thriving gay dating app, Blued, which boasts a larger user base than Grindr.
- CNN: Gay dating app Grindr is the latest victim of US-China tensions
- Bloomberg: Grindr's Chinese owner to sell app by 2020
- South China Morning Post: Meet the ex-cop behind China’s largest Grindr-style gay dating app