A Chinese gaming company has decided to sell the popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr LLC after a U.S. national security panel declared the app to be a threat to service members, Reuters first reported.
Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd, which has owned the California-based dating app since 2016, decided to sever ties at the behest of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which pointed to major concerns over personal data of app users — notably military and intelligence personnel — being made publicly available.
Grindr, which labels itself “the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people,” came under intense heat last year when it was revealed that the app was releasing the HIV statuses of users without their permission.
The app had 27 million users as of 2017, Reuters reported.
The decision of CFIUS to intervene in Grindr’s business operations signals increasing doubt on the part of U.S. officials in the ability of Chinese businesses to keep sensitive information of Americans secret.
In recent years, the panel also blocked the sale of the money transfer company MoneyGram to Chinese business owners, the report said.
The Trump administration has been at the forefront of scrutinizing Chinese cyber practices.
Earlier this month, President Trump accused Google in a tweet of “helping China and their military, but not the U.S.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Google’s artificial intelligence venture in China and other U.S. companies’ business in the country indirectly benefit the Chinese military and create a challenge for the United States as it seeks to maintain a competitive advantage.
“CFIUS made the right decision in unwinding Grindr’s acquisition," U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey commented in a statement acknowledging CFIUS’ intervention of the app.
“It should continue to draw a line in the sand for future foreign acquisition of sensitive personal data.”
A spokesman for CFIUS said the national security panel does not comment on public cases like Grindr, according to Reuters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.