In accordance with a new report, the very famous gay dating and “hook-up” app Grindr with millions of globally daily active users, reportedly have been sharing users’ HIV statuses and locations with two external app optimization companies.

The two organizations, Localytics and Apptimize have been getting information that the users of Grindr included in their profiles, their HIV status, as well as the ethnicity of the user, the GPS location, the tribe or the gay subculture users, feel they most align with, and the relationship status, among a few other details. Such public sharing gets up to becomes a serious issue when it comes to the users in the places that are less accepting of the LGBT community, particularly as some of that information was shared through easily hackable “plain text.”

Grindr, in an apparent effort to quell concern, said in a statement that no user data is sold to the third-party companies and that Localytics and Apptimize are under strict contracts in order to provide the highest level of confidentiality, user privacy, and data security with such sensitive user information. Nevertheless, some of the privacy experts do believe that it still leaves the information of the users vulnerable to the external forces hoping to hack data for nefarious reasons.

The senior staff technologist and security researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cooper Quintin, said that if somebody with a malicious intent wanted to get that information, now instead of there being only a single place for that, which is Grindr, there are three places for that data to potentially get public.

The issues stemming from a breach in the user privacy, relating specifically to the dating apps frequently used by the gay men, were a primary target of a study by the researchers from a number of leading Australian universities in July 2017. The potential implications of information sharing, especially when it comes to the HIV status of the users, they wrote that could be disastrous for the private citizens in some of the places in the world.

The study read that there are numerous reports of enforcement agencies clamping down on the buying and selling of drugs on hookup sites, with drug possession and HIV non-disclosure or HIV-positive sex typically cited as a rationale for entrapping and arresting people through this medium. It further added that a pivotal question is, when and with what effects the private sexual interactions get construed as a threat to public health, national security, and law enforcement. For its part, the privacy policy of Grindr does warn the users that those who include their HIV status in a publicly-viewable profile essentially would be making their personal data public.

Grindr is not the only dating app to have encountered issues with privacy. Late in the year 2017, a reporter had discovered that the popular dating app Tinder had collected 800 pages on a user’s personal data, culled from her conversations with the other users and her social media networks, even after she told that she had disconnected them from her dating app.