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Russia Orders Dating App Tinder to Comply with Country’s New Internet Data Laws

Tinder did not say whether it would hand over information if the Russian security services requested it

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Tinder did not say whether it would hand over information if the Russian security services requested it. RFERL

Russian regulators have ordered the popular dating app Tinder to comply with the country’s new Internet data laws, raising concerns that the country’s security services could get access to citizens’ intimate exchanges.

Roskomnadzor added Tinder on May 31 to the list of “information disseminators” — which includes websites, apps, and messenger services — that must store local users data on servers inside the country. Inclusion in the list requires companies to collect and hand over data should security services request it.

In a statement to RFE/RL on June 3, Tinder did not say whether it would hand over information if the Russian security services requested it.

“We received a request to register with the Russian authorities, and, as of now, we have registered to be compliant. However, this registration in no way shares any user or personal data with any Russian regulatory bodies and we have not handed over any data to their government,” a Tinder spokesperson said.

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Russia has already added dating websites to the list of companies required to comply with the new Internet laws, including Badoo and Mamba. Pixabay

The company’s website states it may disclose personal information when required by law, “such as a court order, subpoena, or search warrant, government/law enforcement investigation or other legal requirements.” Owned by the U.S.-based Match Group, Tinder is used by people around to world to find romantic relationships by liking photos and sending messages.

The app collects data about its users, including their personal interests, photos, videos, messages, and profiles of people they like to enhance the service, the company says on its website. Tinder also stores debit- and credit-card information of those that subscribe to premium services.

Russia passed a law in 2015 requiring select domestic and foreign companies to retain the personal computer data of its citizens on servers inside the country. Other countries have passed similar laws.

Companies that refuse to comply with Russia’s new law risk being added to the country’s Internet blacklist and banned from operating inside the country. Russia banned the professional job networking website LinkedIn in 2016 for failing to comply with the law.

Russia has already added dating websites to the list of companies required to comply with the new Internet laws, including Badoo and Mamba. Yandex, VKontakte, and Mail.ru, Russia’s leading Internet companies, are also on the list.

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Tinder did not say whether it would hand over information if the Russian security services requested it. Pixabay

Anton Orekh, a commentator for the Ekho Moskvy radio stationsaid Russian citizens don’t have to worry about the government peeking at their love messages on Tinder. The state does not have the resources to read this “gigantic volume of messages and stickers.”

“While the authorities are trying to keep a few hundred opposition activists on a leash, they are really poking their nose in the life of millions of apolitical citizens, slowly turning these citizens against them,” he said.

Maria Snegovaya, a former columnist for the business daily Vedomosti, agreed, saying the secret services collect more data than they can possibly analyze. “Fortunately for a lot of Russian people, that is a salvation and hopefully that is going to be the case here,” Snegovaya, now an adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, told RFE/RL.

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However, the state could try to collect data on specific individuals considered a threat, such as members of the opposition, in an attempt to blackmail them, especially if a person has non-conventional sexual preferences, she said.

Tinder is the most downloaded dating app in the world, according to the mobile market data provider AppAnnie, and it has a big presence in Russia. The dating app experienced a huge spike in usage in Russia during the World Cup in 2018. In March, about 185,000 Russians living in cities of 100,000 or more people used the app every day, according to a study by Mediascope. (RFERL)

Next Story

Popular Dating Apps Including Tinder Share User Data With Dozens of Companies

The apps were chosen for the study as they were the most popular apps on Google Play at the time in "certain categories where sensitive category personal data were deemed likely to be processed, such as data about health, religion, children, and sexual preferences"

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The apps tested include the dating apps Grindr, Happn, OkCupid, and Tinder; the period tracker apps Clue and MyDays; the makeup app Perfect; the religious app Muslim: Qibla Finder; the children's app My Talking Tom 2; and the keyboard app Wave Keyboard. Pixabay

Ten popular apps, including dating apps like Tinder, OKCupid and Grindr, have been found sharing people’s personal information with dozens of digital marketing and ad tech companies without users’ knowledge, according to a new study.

The only way for many users to protect their information, the study conducted by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) says, is for them to have never installed the apps at all.

The apps tested include the dating apps Grindr, Happn, OkCupid, and Tinder; the period tracker apps Clue and MyDays; the makeup app Perfect; the religious app Muslim: Qibla Finder; the children’s app My Talking Tom 2; and the keyboard app Wave Keyboard, ZDNet reported on Wednesday.

The study took into consideration the activity of 10 popular apps during the period June to November 2019 in order to identify how personal data is transmitted from these apps to commercial third parties.

Tinder
Ten popular apps, including dating apps like Tinder, OKCupid and Grindr, have been found sharing people’s personal information with dozens of digital marketing and ad tech companies without users’ knowledge, according to a new study. Wikimedia Commons

The apps were chosen for the study as they were the most popular apps on Google Play at the time in “certain categories where sensitive category personal data were deemed likely to be processed, such as data about health, religion, children, and sexual preferences”.

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Only the Android versions of these apps were tested, with NCC explaining that this was due to Android being the largest mobile operating system worldwide, in addition to Google being a key player in the ad tech industry, the report added. (IANS)