Before  the data bandits and peddlers got access to and made use of our  personal information, advertising companies would use a scatter gun  approach to find their target audiences. One of the few tools they had  at their disposal would be different TV time slots. Sweets and  chocolates were advertised around the time that kids got home from  school and would be watching cartoons. Then ads aimed at adults for  alcohol and the like were broadcast later in the evening. The ingenuity  and at times hilarity of TV ads would certainly get our attention.

But  now a more targeted form of advertising is the name of the game. There  is nothing fancy or interesting about it, just an in-your-face product  pops up on your screen. A shoe, a dress, a car, whatever….but eerily  they all have something in common in that you, the hapless browser of  the internet, do in fact somehow have a particular interest in these  items....

It is common knowledge that the likes of  Facebook are harvesting and selling your data. Users put it out there  and, since you accepted the "terms and conditions", Zuckerberg happily  sells what you have given to him on a plate. Other forms of data  harvesting by just your cellphone alone are currently being highlighted  on this blog. But there is something more sinister going on….

There  have been embarrassing data breaches at several online dating sites  over the years, such as Ashley Madison and AdultFriendFinder. However,  for one of these setups to actually go out and deliberately sell your  information to the highest bidder is beyond the pale. It seems that  Grindr is one such case. These guys cater to the LGBT community, a  section of our society which has the greatest need for its privacy to be  protected as the dangers of being outed in many countries around the  world can be extreme. On top of that, those who have a need to use  Grindr should, just like the rest of us, have a right to privacy and not  expect their information to be sold.

Users habits,  interests and behaviour are all being collected by Grindr. On top of that, when opening the app, advertisers will get your GPS location plus a notification that you are actually on Grindr. This information is then  combined with additional details retrieved from other social media  accounts, connected devices and browsing history. This is a gross  violation of privacy and represents commercial surveillance at its  worst. Whilst consumers will continue using these types of sites and  apps, there is not much they can do to shift the balance of power in  their favour.

Fortunately, in the EU at least, this  kind of corporate behaviour is very much against European data  protection laws. Action is currently being taken against Grindr and  several others who are engaged in these practices.

Profiling  individuals for advertising purposes based upon their inner desires and needs, be they LGBT or heterosexual, is not a path that we should be  going down.

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