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Grindr and Romeo among gay dating apps leaking location data

Lydia Smith August 9, 2019
A Grindr logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

A Grindr logo seen displayed on a smartphone (Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Several gay dating apps are exposing the precise location of their users and potentially putting them at risk, cyber-security researchers have found.

Grindr, Romeo and Recon, three of the most popular apps, were affected.

Security researchers were able to create a map of users across London for the BBC, revealing exactly where they were located.

Although the apps are supposed to expose some data, in order for people to find potential partners within a certain radius of their location, the information is meant to be an approximation.

However, researchers found that by using a process called trilateration, they can find out exactly where users are.

Some apps, including Recon, have made changes to better protect their users, but others have not.

Cybersecurity company Pen Test Partners created a tool to fake your location, all while doing the triangulation automatically.

London's Metropolitan Police have issued a safety warning to Grindr users
Earlier this year, London’s Met police issued a safety warning to Grindr users (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty)

Grindr, Recon and Romeo had not yet blocked tools like this that would allow people to find the location of other users.

A spokesperson for Grindr told the BBC that users could hide this location data on their profiles, while Romeo – a gay BDSM fetish app – said it took security “seriously”.

Recon said it had made changes to its apps to obscure the precise location of its users since being warned of the issue by the researchers.

Earlier this year, London’s Metropolitan Police issued a safety warning to people using Grindr, after two people were arrested on suspicion of murder and thefts connected to the app.

The Met’s warning urged people using apps to stay safe by making sure to “tell a friend or relative about the meeting” and arranging to “meet in a public place.”

Two people were arrested on Tuesday (June 12) in connection with a suspected rape and robbery in Walthamstow, and the suspicious death of a man in Battersea.

More: dating apps, gay dating apps, Grindr, Recon, Romeo, technology

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