Grindr has pulled its popular dating app from the app store in China in response to a new law that is seen by many as a tool to crackdown on political dissent and the LGBTQ+ community.
A spokesman for Grindr tells Out's sister publication The Advocate that the move was made in response to potential compliance issues with the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). The government is currently on a campaign to purge the internet of information it deems illegal, pornographic, or otherwise conflicts with official government positions.
“Like many other US companies, we've chosen to remove our app from the app store in China due to the potential increased burden from China's recently implemented Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL),” Grindr spokesman Patrick Lenihan told The Advocate, adding, “We may revisit this in the future.”
The law went into effect on November 1 of last year and regulates the data stored on apps and requires government approval of data transfers from China to outside regions.
Late last year, the country’s communist government instructed broadcasters to suppress freedom of expression for gender and sexual identity, and to “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics.” Fearing the cultural impact on the country from South Korean singers and influencers, the government ordered those in the media to “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture, and advanced socialist culture.”
Also last year, the Chinese messaging app WeChat blocked the accounts of LGBTQ+ student groups, with microblog company Weibo Corp. suspending thousands of fan clubs and entertainment news accounts that did not comply with the government’s view of appropriate discourse and opinion.
In Europe last year, Grindr ran afoul of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and was fined 100 million Norwegian Kroenr (approximately $11.6 million) for illegally selling users' personal private information to third-party advertisers. At the time, the fine represented an estimated ten percent of the company’s European revenue and an estimated third of their net profits.
While the government may not approve, there remains a thriving gay community within China. A recent poll conducted on Grindr users found China was in the top five for the number of gay men identifying as bottoms and for those accepting NSFW pics.