French dating app Happn has been accused of breaking its own terms and conditions with regards to the sharing and storing of its user data.
The Norwegian Consumer Council recently released a report, claiming that Happn is failing to fulfil its promise to not share user data with other companies.
In its Confidence Charter, the French company says: “Happn commits never to share your details with any other member or with any third party. Your e-mail address and your real identity are strictly confidential and will never be disclosed by Happn.”
However a review carried out by the research institution SINTEF on behalf of the Council says the hyperlocal app – which has over 10m users worldwide – often shares key user data with tracking firm Upsight.
According to the review, the information is taken from users’ Facebook accounts, and the shared info includes details like name, age, workplace and gender.
After learning about the report, we reached out to Happn to ask them about the claims, who responded by saying that while the company does work with Upsight, the data they share is kept anonymous.
A spokesperson for the app told GDI:
“First and foremost, our highest priority is to provide our users with the best possible experience with Happn. This includes protecting users’ privacy and their sensitive data — a matter which we take very seriously.
To provide our users with the best possible experience, Happn uses an analytics tool provided by Upsight. This tool helps us analyse how the app is being used so we can continuously improve our services for the benefit of the user.
Importantly, the data analysed through this tool is kept completely anonymous as it is being processed by computer servers. None of this usage data is used for commercial or marketing purposes.”
The report – which was published earlier this month – also claims that after carrying out a technical test, it found that the dating app does not delete all cookies when it is uninstalled from a user’s device.
The council said this means users cannot permanently remove the app from their device, or entirely delete information about themselves.
Speaking about the dating app’s terms and conditions, the Head of Digital Services Section in the Norwegian Consumer Council, Finn Myrstad, said: “Happn’s efforts to make the terms user friendly is of little account, as long as they do not live up to what they promise.”
In response, Happn told GDI said they do store a “single file”, but it contains no useable member data, saying:
“Happn stores a single file designed to avoid user base duplication when someone deletes and then re-installs the app.
When the app is deleted, this stored file absolutely cannot communicate any information to any third party, including us. It is only active if — and at the moment that — our app is reinstalled on the device.”
Happn takes every precaution to protect our users’ privacy. It’s a central component of our overall mission: bringing the dating experience back into the real world by enhancing real life interactions and giving people the right tool to help them connect.”
The investigation by the Norwegian Consumer Council is part of its “appfail” campaign, where the group analyses the terms, privacy policies and behaviour of 20 mobile apps.
The purpose is to “uncover and analyse potential threats to consumer protection, hidden in plain sight in the end user terms and privacy policies of apps.”
The Council has said it will continue to perform a number of similar app tests to examine “how consumer rights and privacy specifics are handled”, and will submit a full report before Easter.