Former intelligence experts say the purchase of gay hook-up app Grindr by Chinese technology company the Kunlun Group means that the Chinese government would be in a position to demand access to the personal details of its 3.3 million users.
This recent purchase completes an overall buy-out of Grindr by the Kunlun Group (a mobile gaming company), which secured a 60 percent stake in the company in January of 2016. The overall cost of the buy-out is estimated to have cost $245 million in total.
Those familiar with the seemingly rapacious nature of the Chinese government’s thirst for foreign data collection have expressed concern at the news of the buy-out.
“The Chinese government is sweeping up massive amounts of data on not only its own citizens, but also Americans and others, as part of a unique and well-planned effort to build files on foreigners for intelligence purposes,” writes Josh Rogin in The Washington Post.
And worryingly, under Chinese law, if the government demands users’ personal information, citing “public security” concerns, companies like the Kunlun Group have no option but to comply.
But why would the Chinese government be interested in Grindr users’ data?
According to former intelligence analyst Peter Mattis, who told the WP:
“What you can see from Chinese intelligence practices is a clear effort to collect a lot of personal information on a lot of different people, and to build a database of names that’s potentially useful either for influence or for intelligence.
Then later, when the party-state comes into contact with someone in the database, there’s now information to be pulled.”
Whatever the case, Kunlun executives will take over running the company. Grindr founder and CEO, Joel Simkhai has been replaced by Yahui Zhou, who will step in as interim CEO.
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