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Grindr’s Chinese Ownership Deemed a National Security Risk by U.S. Committee Business

Grindr’s Chinese Ownership Deemed a National Security Risk by U.S. Committee

Written by Stephan Horbelt on March 27, 2019
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Reuters reports that Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd, the Chinese gaming company that has owned Grindr since 2016, is looking to sell the app after a U.S. government national security panel expressed concerns. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has told the Chinese company that its Grindr ownership is itself a national security risk.

Reuters claims it learned of Kunlun’s intent to sell the app from two sources familiar with the matter who have asked not to be identified.

In 2016, Kunlun spent nearly $100 million on a majority stake in Grindr ownership. Less than two years later, in 2018, Kunlun purchased the remainder of the company. Reuters is claiming that neither of those deals were submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investment for voluntary review, which has resulted in the committee now demanding an outright sale of the business.

Though Reuters is claiming the U.S. committee’s exact concerns haven’t been revealed, it’s believed this decision to force Grindr’s sale has to do with the safety of its users’ personal data. Last April it was reported that Grindr had exposed users’ locations to third parties, and a week later that the app was sharing users’ HIV status with third parties. The latter sparked an important conversation around HIV data protection and app culture.

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In August 2018, Kunlun went public with its intention to prepare an initial public offering (IPO) of the Grindr app. Now, however, following the U.S. committee’s intervention, Kunlun is looking to sell its Grindr ownership outright.

Reuters claims Grindr is looking to be acquired by U.S. investment firms or the app’s American competitors, but was unable to get an on-the-record comment from Grindr or the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which says it does not comment publicly on individual cases.

What are your thoughts on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ decision regarding Grindr ownership?

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