The Russian Government Now Requires Tinder to Hand Over People's Sexts

By Melanie Ehrenkranz on at

Tinder users in Russia may now have to decide whether the perks of dating apps outweigh a disconcerting invasion of privacy. Russian authorities are now requiring that the dating app hand over a wealth of intimate user data, including private messages, if and when it asks for them.

Tinder is the fourth dating app in the nation to be forced to comply with the Russian government’s request for user data, Moscow Times reports, and it’s among 175 services that have already consented to share information with the nation’s Federal Security Service, according to a registry online.

Tinder was added to the list of services that have to comply with the Russian data requests last Friday, 31 May. The data Tinder must collect and provide to Russia upon request includes user data and all communications including audio and video. According to Tinder’s privacy policy, it does collect all your basic profile details, such as your date of birth and gender as well as the content you publish and your chats with other users, among other information. Which means the Russian government could get its hands on your sexts, your selfies, and even details on where you’ve been or where you might be going if it wants to.

It’s unclear if the possible data requests will apply to just Tinder users within Russia or any users of the dating app, regardless of where they are. If it’s the latter, it points to an unsettling reality in which one nation is able to extend its reach into the intimate data of people all over the world by simply making the request to any complying service that happens to also operate in Russia.

We have reached out to Tinder about which users this applies to, whether it will comply with this request, and what type of data it will share with the Russian authorities. We will update when we hear back. According to the Associated Press, Russian’s communications regulator confirmed on Monday that the company had shared information with it.

The Russian government is not only targeting Tinder. As the lengthy registry online indicates, a large and diverse range of services are already on the list and have been for years. This includes Snap, Wechat, Vimeo, and Badoo, another popular dating app in Russia.

Telegram famously objected to the Russian authorities’ request for its encryption keys last year, which resulted in the government banning the encrypted messaging app. It was an embarrassing mess for Russian internet service providers, which in their attempt to block workarounds for the messaging app, disrupted a litany of services online.

The Telegram incident illustrates what happens if a company doesn’t comply with Russia’s data requests. Regulators in the nation don’t have a huge arsenal of tools available to them to penalise services that may fail to hand over user information, but they can reportedly force them to pay a small fine—and block the service altogether. Which, as we saw with Telegram, might be a total shitshow.

Featured image: Getty