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Grindr disappears from China's app stores days before the 2022 Beijing Olympics start

The gay dating app vanished from Chinese app stores after its owner decided China's data protection laws were too onerous to comply with
The gay dating app vanished from Chinese app stores after its owner decided China's data protection laws were too onerous to comply with Copyright Hassan Ammar/AP
Copyright Hassan Ammar/AP
By Tom BatemanAFP
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The gay dating app vanished from app stores amid a government push to "purify" the internet ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics - but censorship may not be to blame.

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LGBTQ people in China face a new hurdle after the gay dating app Grindr disappeared from app stores in the country.

The app was removed on January 27, days after China's Cybersecurity Administration announced a month-long effort to curb pornography, quash rumours and "vigorously purify the online ecosystem".

But according to AFP, the app was taken off Apple's App Store by its owners. Grindr is also no longer available on Android app stores run by Chinese tech giants Tencent and Huawei. Google's own store is blocked in China.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the reason for Grindr's demise in mainland China was less to do with its association with the LGBTQ community and more due to the fact that its operators were unable to comply with China's Personal Information Protection Law, a regulation similar to GDPR in the European Union.

The law places limits on the information apps can collect and store, and requires Chinese government approval before users' data can be sent overseas.

A Grindr spokesperson told Bloomberg that it was not the only company to pull its app from the Chinese market for similar reasons.

Even though homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, same-sex marriage is prohibited and LGBTQ issues remain taboo.

Last year, prominent LGBTQ rights groups had their accounts blocked on WeChat, a popular messaging service in China.

In 2016, Chinese censors announced that films and TV shows shouldn't show same-sex romance and should avoid plotlines featuring gay relationships.

Grindr was owned by Chinese mobile company Kunlun until 2020, when pressure from US regulators over data security forced the company to sell its stake.

China's drive to clamp down on the tech sector - as well as a renewed focus on morality - has seen western tech firms abandon the world's largest country.

Last year, Yahoo followed Linkedin in shuttering its services in mainland China, while strict new laws limiting gaming saw online shooter Fortnite cancel its plans to launch in the country.

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