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Gay Dating App Grindr Pulled From Apple App Store in China

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(Bloomberg) -- Operators of the Grindr gay-dating service in China removed the app from Apple Inc.’s App Store, citing difficulties keeping it in compliance with the country’s Personal Information Protection Law.

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The new regulations -- a local version of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR -- went into effect at the end of 2021. The law limits personal information stored in apps and requires data transfered between China and other regions to be approved by the Chinese government.

A representative for Grindr noted that other companies have removed their apps for similar reasons.

The move, which occurred on Jan. 27, came days after Beijing vowed to renew its campaign to police online content -- sparking concern that Grindr had been targeted. The service also disappeared from app markets run by domestic giants like Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co. Alphabet Inc.’s Play Store, like other Google services, is unavailable in China. Local Grindr competitors, including Blued, remain accessible across iPhones and Android devices.

Read more: China cracks down on online rumors ahead of Olympics

The fresh efforts to regulate internet content come just ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which start on Feb. 4. The Cyberspace Administration of China announced a monthlong campaign last week to crack down on online rumors, pornography and illegal content.

Some Grindr users in China reported connectivity issues over the past few weeks, including the inability to send and receive messages or add likes.

In 2020, the Chinese owner of Grindr, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., sold the app to investors for about $600 million, after U.S. regulators required the divestment on national security grounds.

Read more: China slams effeminate men in Xi’s push for conformity

Last year, a slew of foreign internet services -- including Yahoo, Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn and Epic Games Inc.’s Fortnite -– gave up on China, citing an increasingly challenging business and legal environment. China removed homosexuality from a national list of mental disorders about two decades ago, but Beijing censors have sporadically clamped down on entertainment and content with gay themes.

(Updates with Grindr statement in third paragraph.)

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