Company Shared User Data, ‘Billions’ of Nudes

  • The ex-head of privacy at dating app Grindr filed an explosive lawsuit against his former company.
  • Former Chief of Privacy Ron DeJesus said top executives ignored multiple warnings about user data.
  • De Jesus claimed in the lawsuit that user data was stored after accounts were deleted, and shared with third parties.

The former head of privacy at LGBTQ+ dating and social networking app Grindr has accused the company of callously ignoring the app’s storage and sharing of user data, including intimate photos and HIV status.

In a wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, former Chief Privacy Officer Ron De Jesus accused the company of illegally retaining data and violating global and US privacy laws.

De Jesus alleges that the company fired him in January after he raised concerns about the company prioritizing “profit over privacy,” per court documents.

“In other words, deleted users’ private communications, including naked photos and other highly sensitive content, such as HIV status are not only still stored in Grindr’s systems, but also its vendor systems, and potentially retrievable by any employee of Grindr, or its third-party support vendor, through a backdoor to Grindr’s application,” De Jesus claimed in the lawsuit.

In 2021, Norway fined Grindr $7 million for illegally sharing user data, which De Jesus referenced in his lawsuit. He claimed that the company continued similar practices, violating American and European data privacy laws.

In the lawsuit, De Jesus claimed that a technical bug identified in the app allowed for user data including “billions” of nude photos to be stored—even after account deletion. De Jesus claimed that the bug would reset data consent settings, and alleged in the lawsuit that when top executives were alerted, they did not fix it at the time.

De Jesus claimed that after he shared his privacy concerns with executives, he was iced out of an executive retreat. And when he sent a strongly worded email  about potential illegalities on January 5, 2023, De Jesus claimed he was fired hours later and told he was not a “good fit.”

Patrick Lenihan, a Grindr Spokesperson, told Insider in a statement that De Jesus’ claims in the suit are “definitively inaccurate.”

“Mr. De Jesus was terminated for being ineffective and for poorly managing Grindr’s privacy practices, which were his primary responsibility,” Lenihan said. “Through his professional failings, Mr. De Jesus put Grindr and Grindr’s users at risk.” 

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