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Grindr may be sold by its Chinese owner due to US national security risk

The latest risk to national security: your dating life.
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Thomas Trutschel via Getty Images

Apparently, the US government views Grindr as a threat to national security. According to Reuters, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) informed the Chinese gaming company that owns the dating app that its ownership constitutes a national security risk. Now, facing pressure from the US, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd is looking to sell.

While no one can say what CFIUS' concerns were, they're likely related to privacy. The US has become increasingly wary of how app developers handle personal data, especially if any of it comes from US military or intelligence personnel. Grindr, which claims to be the largest social networking app for LGBTQ people, collects personal information, location data and messages. Last year, we found out Grindr had been sharing users' HIV statuses -- linked to personal info like email addresses, GPS info and phone IDs -- with app optimization companies. A few months later, a third-party app used Grindr to reveal user location data.

Kunlun has owned Grindr since 2016, when it purchased a majority stake for $93 million. It bought out the remainder of the company in 2018, and as of last summer, it was planning an initial public offering. Now, Kunlun hopes to sell the app outright.

The news highlights how the US treats Chinese tech companies. The most high-profile case is, of course, the ongoing discord between the US and Huawei -- the US has accused the Chinese tech giant of 23 crimes ranging from wire fraud to trade-secret theft. But Huawei isn't the only Chinese tech company at odd with the US. In the last two years, the government has blocked Chinese bidders from acquiring MoneyGram International Inc and AppLovin. And a few Chinese owners have been forced to divest after they acquired US companies without filing for CFIUS review. We know the last people you need meddling in your love life are government agents, but it's 2019, so anything is possible.

Correction, 3/27/19, 5PM ET: This article originally stated that Kunlun purchased a majority stake in Grindr in 2006 and that it bought out the rest of the company in 2018; this should have read 2016 and 2018, respectively. We apologize for the error.

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