Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd, the Chinese company that owns popular gay dating app Grindr, is reportedly looking to sell the app based on the U.S. government calling it a “national security risk.”
According to Reuters, the company is looking to sell Grindr, which it acquired between 2016 and 2018, “after a U.S. government national security panel raised concerns about its ownership.”
“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has informed Kunlun that its ownership of West Hollywood, California-based Grindr constitutes a national security risk,” Reuters reported, adding that, “Grindr has hired investment bank Cowen Inc to handle the sale process, and is soliciting acquisition interest from U.S. investment firms, as well as Grindr’s competitors.”
The Chinese company’s acquisition of Grindr proved to be very controversial, sparking privacy fears.
In 2017, Grindr assured users that the Chinese government would “not have access to your account,” and declared, “We want to keep it real with you (and we don’t want anyone spreading crazy conspiracy theories), so here’s what you need to know… Your privacy remains paramount. Nothing changes with how we will protect your personal information.”
“The Chinese government will not have access to your account,” the company claimed. “Beijing Kunlun is not owned by the Chinese government. This sale doesn’t change how Grindr safeguards our user data.”
However, the Daily Mail at the time warned that “some cybersecurity experts aren’t so sure,” noting “that the Chinese government is able to exert significant pressure and control on the country’s private enterprises.”
The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin also warned, “Grindr’s assurances notwithstanding… the risk to Grindr users that the Chinese government will know their secrets has just increased.”
In 2018, it was reported that Grindr had allegedly been sharing the HIV statuses of its users with third parties.
In the same year, the president of Grindr, Scott Chen, also faced controversy for claiming marriage is “between a man and a woman.”