SLATE.COM - Feb 28 - With Grindr and other queer platforms, the burden of keeping safe shouldn't fall solely on users. In late September, Egyptian authorities began a crackdown against the country's queer communities after fans of Mashrou' Leila, an outspoken Lebanese indie rock group with an openly gay band member, displayed a rainbow flag at the group's concert in Cairo. To find and arrest their targets, security forces, among other tactics, created fake profiles on queer dating apps like Grindr and Hornet. The app creators should be responsible for protecting their users. The majority of dating apps don't transmit pictures securely. All of the major dating apps, too, are able to access messages stored on company servers, meaning their contents could be compromised in the event of a government request or, if stored insecurely, in the event of a data breach. To try to protect themselves, users often turn to software that only partially addresses privacy and security issues. But VPNs won't hide a user's location from a dating app, which relies on a phone's built-in GPS sensor for its geolocation features. What's more, in countries that have banned these kinds of tools, downloading or using certain known VPNs or circumvention software might land a user under increased scrutiny. Grindr and Hornet began providing safety info&tips in Arabic to inform users about risks but without implementing changes to protect them too - say, eliminating watermarked app logos on photos, which have been used as evidence in court and blackmail attempts.
by Norman Shamas
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