Many popular apps including those related to dating, makeup, kids entertainment, religion and menstruation tracking are sharing personal user data with third-parties in violation of the European Union's GDPR laws, a research by government-funded Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has found.
The "Out of Control: How Consumers Are Exploited by the Online Advertising Industry" report, published Tuesday, studied 10 popular apps for their data protection policies and claims that all of them were sharing user data unethically.
The chief among them Grindr, a dating app for LGBTQ people. was sharing the users' IP addresses, Advertising IDs, GPS locations, ages and genders with a host of companies including AT&T Inc.'s (NYSE: T) AppNexus and Twitter Inc.'s (NYSE: TWTR) MoPub, which acted as a mediator for much of this data sharing, the report said.
"Every time you open an app like Grindr, advertisement networks get your GPS location, device identifiers and even the fact that you use a gay dating app. This is an insane violation of users' EU privacy rights," Max Schrems, the founder of European Center for Digital Rights, said in a statement.
Grindr had previously admitted to sharing the HIV status of the users with third-parties in 2018, but said that it stopped the practice.
Match Group Inc.'s (NASDAQ: MTCH) dating app Tinder was found to be sharing GPS location and "target gender", the report said. OkCupid was sharing the users' answers to personal questions relating to drug use, sexuality, and political views, aside from the GPS coordinates.
The research found that Google parent company Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) advertising service DoubleClick was receiving data from eight of the apps studied, while social media giant Facebook Inc. received data from nine of the 10 apps.
The other apps that were sharing the data included menstruation cycle trackers "Clue" and "My Days," Islamic prayer direction finder "Muslim: Qibla Finder," kids entertainment app "My Talking Tom 2," makeup app "Perfect365," virtual typer "Wave Keyboard," and dating app Happn.