Russia says Tinder must share user data, private messages

Russian authorities add Tinder to database that requires company to share user data with the government.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

The Russian government has added dating service Tinder on a government database that legally forces the company to hand over user data and private communications to the country's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The database is called ORI, or the Register of Information Dissemination Organizations.

According to Russian laws 97-FZ and 374-FZ, companies added to this database must hand over data to Russian police or Russian intelligence agencies like the FSB, upon request, with or without a court order, in order to help with investigations into terrorist and national security cases.

Prior to today, the ORI database contained 175 companies, from both Russia and foreign countries. Tinder's addition to the ORI database was announced earlier today in a press release published by Roskomnadzor, the Russian government's telecommunications watchdog, and the agency in charge of maintaining ORI.

According to Roskomsvoboda, a Russian non-governmental organization for the protection of digital rights of Internet users, Tinder is the fourth dating service added to ORI, after Mamba, Wamba, and Badoo's dating portal.

Tinder risks fines and/or a ban

The non-profit said that companies added to ORI have no legal obligation to comply with the Russian government's requests, but if they don't, they risk being fined or banned inside Russia's territory.

Previously, Telegram refused to comply with requests issued by the FSB intelligence agency, and the instant messaging service was eventually banned in Russia last year.

Encrypted instant messaging service Threema also refused to comply with FSB requests, but they have not been banned in Russia, as of yet.

Russian users and privacy advocates are warning that if Russian intelligence agencies get access to Tinder data and private conversations, the information might be abused for extortion and blackmail campaigns.

Tinder has not issued a public statement following today's Roskomnadzor announcement. The company is believed to have over 50 million users worldwide, all of which are subject to data requests, and not only Russian citizens.

According to a Roskomnadzor tweet, the Russian government has already sent Tinder a data access request.

"We received a request to register with the Russian authorities, and, as of now, we have registered to be compliant" a Tinder spokesperson told ZDNet via email. "However, this registration in no way shares any user or personal data with any Russian regulatory bodies and we have not handed over any data to their government."

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