Love in the time of the internet: Tinder and other dating apps breach Dutch privacy law

Navigating the dating life in the Netherlands comes in many shapes and forms: trying to understand Dutch pick-up lines, starting to learn the language and getting used to the infamous Dutch birthday circle parties hoping that you’ll meet the one there. But one thing most people do is download dating apps like Tinder because online romances are the norm. Consumentenbond (Consumers Association) has just released a survey of 10 dating apps which revealed that some of them do not comply with the Dutch Privacy Law. Yikes!

Consumentenbond, the Dutch non-profit organisation that advocates for consumer protection found that five of the apps surveyed (Tinder, Happn, Paiq, Parship, and 50Plusmatch) displayed advertising cookies before their visitors could give them permission to do so. The other apps surveyed were e-Matching, Badoo, Pepper, Lexa, and Relatieplanet.

This is in direct violation of the AVG or the General Data Protection Regulation in the Netherlands. According to this law, all visitors to a website should give their consent before they can place commercial cookies. With Tinder being the most popular app used in the Netherlands for online dating, this is certainly worrying.

Tinder and its many horror stories. Image: Tumisu/Pixabay

Consequences of this breach of the privacy law

As this law has been violated, the visitors’ personal data could end up in the hands of commercial third parties. For example, Tinder, Paiq and Parship have a direct communication line set up with Facebook’s advertising network. As a result, the person can come across dating ads on their Facebook timeline or even outside of it.

Is it enough to have a privacy statement?

A lot of us might skip reading privacy statements and the fine print that goes along with it. If you were one of them and if you’re thinking you’re in the clear because the app you use does ask for your permission, we have some bad news for you. They also say that apart from e-Matching, all other apps are very vague about their privacy statements. They don’t make it explicit about what personal data they’re collecting and how they’re used.

Follow-up investigation

As the law was introduced almost two years ago, the apps had ample time to adjust their policies, says Sandra Molenaar, Director of the association. The dating sites have been notified of the findings and only Pepper, Paiq, Happn and 50Plusmatch have said that they will revise their policies.

The association has promised to follow-up with an investigation if this is true in all the cases in the short term.

Are you on any of these dating sites? Are you going to be uninstalling, shutting shop and throwing away your phone after this news? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Tumisu/Pixabay

Kavana Desai
Kavana Desai
Coping with the aftermath of her 3-year stint in the Netherlands, Kavana is a writer, content creator and editor for DutchReview. Hailing from India, she frequently blogs about the Netherlands, being Indian in the Netherlands, and everything in between. She envisions herself to one day be the youngest person to win that Nobel Prize for Literature (she is also not very humble but welcomes only constructive criticism). In the meantime, she fills her days with writing for DutchReview, writing her master's thesis on art theft, and writing fiction that will hopefully see the light of day soon.


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