March 2017, German reporter Judith Duportail have acknowledged and claimed her rights to liberty with the help of European Union’s data protection directive, to ask for a copy of all collated personal information captured by Tinder- a dating application, over a period of four years.
Duportail wrote an article at the Guardian summarizing the amount of exposed confidential information available in an 800-page report that Tinder sent her upon request. Majority of this information was from Tinder, such as complete message threads and geolocation data of every interaction made using the app. What’s surprising is the fact that Duportail has de-linked her other social media accounts, but Tinder was able to capture her activities in Facebook and even stored her Instagram photos.
Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a data researcher, and PersonalData.io co-founder have tweeted that the process of retrieving Duportail’s account data was painstaking. “It took the real involvement of one data protection activist (me) and a human rights lawyer for them to answer,” Dehaye wrote. “Two [data protection directive] complaints, dozens of e-mails, months of waiting. Far from easy!”
Duportail tweeted back by saying that Tinder chose to not reply to other journalists’ DPD requests, which sparked outrage from people that are anxious about the treatment of their personal information.
As of September 26th, the overall data dump consisted of 1,700 messages sent and received by Duportail.
Tinder used to have the assurance: “You should not expect that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure.” However, they deleted this tagline when Tinder updated its TOS, along with excerpts about how they used Personal Identifier (PID) for “targeted advertising”- where “matches” and other ads are tailored-fit accordingly to the user’s information and preferences.
Duportail expressed her doubt on exactly how secure the accumulated data is, and what would happen in the case of a security breach (which have been rampant these past few months) or Tinder being acquired by other companies.
Upon Duportail’s inquiry towards Tinder as to why the service requires access to every user’s personally identifying information, a Tinder representative elaborated that the data was used “to personalize the experience for each of our users around the world… Our matching tools are dynamic and consider various factors when displaying potential matches to customize the experience for each of our users.”
Unfortunately, the prominent dating app did not respond to her follow-up question when she asked about how those tools apply data into tailor-fitting the user’s potential matches on the app.
These activities of Tinder has raised more and more ethical questions; as to why they must “examine” their users with such depth and the storage and use of this compiled data.