Reuters has been investigating the events which led to the breakdown of Kunlun Tech’s controversial ownership of Grindr.
Employees from the gay dating app revealed that Kunlun engineers based in Beijing had been granted access to the entire user database last year. This included personal information such as private messages and HIV statuses.
Although Reuters found no evidence that the Chinese government had access to this data, it still set off alarms in the US.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) reportedly operates under the assumption that any data which is in the hands of a Chinese company may be used by the government, because it legally owns all businesses in the country.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said it was aware of the Grindr situation but did not believe there was any wrongdoing. They told Reuters: “The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to conduct economic and trade cooperation overseas in accordance with international rules and local laws.”
However, CFIUS still ordered Kunlun to restrict the Beijing-based engineers access to database. The tech company responded quickly and even closed the Chinese office in February.
Come the end of March, the US government organisation had reached the decision that Grindr should be sold as a matter of national security, particularly to protect members of the LGBTQ community who work for state agencies. Kunlun has reluctantly agreed to relinquish its ownership by June 2020.
Read more here.