Tinder swipes too much personal information, says EU lawmaker

Runkeeper is keeping too much data on its users' movements, too, says European lawmaker Marc Tarabella

Marc Tarabella wants to swipe left on Tinder's privacy policy.

The company's terms of use breach European Union privacy laws, according to Tarabella, a member of the European Parliament.

Tarabella particularly dislikes the way the company gives itself the right to swipe the personal information and photos of its users, and to continue using it even if they deactivate their accounts.

It's not just Tinder: Tarabella is also unhappy about how much personal information Runkeeper keeps about runners' movements, even when the app is inactive. He has the same concerns about Happn, a sort of missed-connections dating service.

The lawmaker wants the European Commission to root out abusive clauses in the terms of use of a number of mobile apps, and to penalize their developers.

"The problem is always the lack of transparency, and the notion of consent. For example, the consumer has never consented to the transmission of their data to third parties when the app is offline in the case of Runkeeper or Happn," he wrote Wednesday.

Mobile apps simplify our daily lives, he said, but they should not become a lawless zone where the consumer is systematically taken advantage of. Privacy rules should be fair, transparent and easy to understand -- and respect consumers' legal rights, he said.

But in calling for an investigation by the European Commission, Tarabella appears to be swiping the wrong way.

While some laws, such as those on competition and cartels, are both enacted and enforced by the Commission, the rules on privacy and protecting consumers from unfair contract terms are for national data protection authorities to enforce, a Commission spokeswoman said Thursday.

Tarabella, a Belgian MEP, may find a better match with the Belgian Privacy Commission, responsible for protecting the personal information of Belgian citizens.

The Belgian Privacy Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tinder's privacy policy.

Authorities in other countries, however, are taking an interest.

Earlier this year the Norwegian Consumer Council launched a campaign calling on app developers to respect their users' privacy.

In an entertaining video, it invited users to imagine what life would be like if everyone treated personal information the way some apps do, by setting up a market stall selling intimate photos of strangers.

Norway is not a member of the EU, although it is a member of the European Economic Area, where EU privacy and consumer protection rules also apply.

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Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
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