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Gay Hookup App Must Pay $240,000 For Leaving Private Photos Exposed

jackd lawsuit

The attorney general of New York’s office brought the case.

After leaving users' private photos exposed for more than a year, the gay dating and hookup app Jack'd has to pay out, literally. The app's owner Online Buddies has agreed to cough up $240,000 in a settlement with the New York attorney's office for their negligence with the sensitive data of 7,000 New York users.

As Outreported in February, Jack'd updated the app to close the loophole discovered by cybersecurity researcher Oliver Hough that allowed people to access supposedly private photos uploaded to Jack'd. While reports, at the time said that Hough had emailed Jack'd three months prior, he revealed to Out via screenshots that the emails dated back a year. Jack'd and Online Buddies did not take any action until after Hough went to the press. British tabloid The Register first broke the story.

"I don't feel they were quick enough to respond and I believe they only rushed to get it fixed after they knew the story was going to be published," Hough told Out at the time. "I'm glad they have rolled out a fix, though it took too long to get here." New York Attorney General Letitia James felt similarly.

"This app put users' sensitive information and private photos at risk of exposure and the company didn't do anything about it for a full year just so that they could continue to make a profit," said James said in a statement about the settlement on Friday. "This was an invasion of privacy for thousands of New Yorkers. Today, millions of people across the country -- of every gender, race, religion, and sexuality -- meet and date online every day, and my office will use every tool at our disposal to protect their privacy."

According to the AG's office, Online Buddies violated the trust of customers by breaking their own privacy policy. During the period between Hough first reaching out and the loophole being closed, 3,822 users from New York State uploaded private photos about half of which "could be nude photographs." It also underscores the specific concerns around privacy as Jack'd is an app specifically populated by and also targeted mostly to queer and trans men and women of color (approximately 80% of the apps users are of color). It points to a University of Chicago study that shows they experience more discrimination than their white counterparts in life.

In addition to the financial settlement, which will go to the state of New York, Online Buddies must implement a "comprehensive security program."

RELATED | Jack'd Left Users Private Photos Exposed for a Year Before Fixing Bug

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