Grindr Allowed Third-Party Companies to See Users’ HIV Status

Grindr Logo (TechCrunch)

Grindr Logo (TechCrunch)

Yesterday, “BuzzFeed” broke the news that Grindr, the dating app aimed at gay men, had been selling users’ data to two third-party companies. Among the data sold were users’ HIV status.

Grindr admitted that it sold data to Apptimize and Localytics. (No word on how these companies were using the data.) Grindr users can provide their HIV status and date of their last HIV test in their profile on the app. The two third-party companies would’ve had easily identifiable information because the HIV status data was sent along with “users’ GPS data, phone ID and email.”

Norwegian research nonprofit company SINTEF was the first entity to find the problem.  Though Grinder said that the information sent was encrypted (simply put, made into a code that’s not easily broken), the company also revealed that the data provided from Grindr could be further hacked.

In recent months, Grindr has made more strides related to HIV. The app nows offers ad-targeting to HIV-testing websites, and users can sign up for HIV-test reminders.

Though Grindr announced plans later yesterday to discontinue sharing HIV data with the third-party companies, the damage has already been done. It will be interesting to see if this data breach will affect the app’s number of users in the near future.

Grindr reports 3.6M+ “daily active users” worldwide.

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The Philippines Might Get Access to Free Birth Control

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Women in the Philippines might soon get access to free birth control.

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order for women of the country to receive free birth control, as well as access to further reproductive health services.

The order implements the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act of 2012, which promotes family planning with the support of the state. It was signed into law that year. The order took 13 years to be signed into law (so it was introduced in 1999…yikes).

It’s estimated that there are currently 6M women without birth control within the country, with 2M women classified as poor. There are 24 live births per every 1K people, giving the country the 66th highest birth rate in the world. Considering that abortion is illegal, the need for some form of birth control is high:

More than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 90 percent of unintended pregnancies occurred in the absence of modern contraceptive methods.

Duterte’s goal is to completely eradicate any “unmet family planning needs” by 2018.

The U.S. Abortion Rate is at its Lowest Numbers Since 1973

Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

WASHINGTON – JANUARY 22: Pro-choice advocates participate in protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

A recent study released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest rate since 1973.

The study claims that in 2014, the abortion rate is 14.6 abortions per ever 1K women of childbearing age (defined as ages 15-44). The rate peaked at 29.3 abortions per 1K women in 1980-1981. In 2013, the abortion rate “fell below 1M for the first time since the 1970s.”

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

The study also found that 12% of clinics had at least one patient who tried to self-induce her abortion. There was no correlation between the closing of abortion clinics and more restrictive abortion laws by state. In areas where more abortion clinics opened, there was not a higher abortion rate.

There appears to be a substitution effect at work, with other birth control methods taking the place of abortion. Most notable is that of the intrauterine device (IUD), which has gained in usage over the past several years.

But why 1973? 1973 was the seminal year where the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. It’s a good sign that women are using more birth control methods and not having to rely on abortion to get rid of unintended pregnancies.

Wonder Woman Will Be the U.N.’s Honorary Ambassador for Female Empowerment

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

In addition to being the Amazonian Princess of Themyscira and civilian Diana Prince, Wonder Woman can add another title to her resume: United Nations’ Honorary Ambassador.

Wonder Woman’s promotion will kick off a campaign dedicated to women’s empowerment. This ties into the U.N.’s sustainable development goal 5, which promotes worldwide gender equality.

Though Wonder Woman will be used as a symbol of women’s empowerment throughout the world, it’s worth noting that most of the top U.N. jobs are held by men.

Wonder Woman will be formally announced as the honorary ambassador on October 21st, 75 years after her character first debuted. Actresses Lynda Carter, who’s played the character in the 1970s TV show, and Gal Gadot, who’ll depict the character in a big-budget DC Comics movie next year, are expected to attend the ceremony.

Poland Votes Against Abortion Ban

Polish protest against proposed abortion ban (Religion News)

People demonstrate against the Polish government’s plan to tightening the abortion law in Krakow, Poland April 3, 2016. The signs read: “I’m giving birth from love not from being forced” and “My womb does not belong to homeland” (R). REUTERS/Lukasz Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta

Last week, Poland voted against a proposal to completely ban abortion.

This is significant because Poland has stringent rules as to when abortions could be used: only in “cases of rape, incest, a threat to the life of the mother or irreparable damage to the fetus.” Poland has one of the strongest policies against abortion in Europe. Right now, that rule still stands, though the total abortion ban has not moved forward with the country’s Law and Justice ruling party.

The proposed ban would’ve carried a five-year prison sentence both for women undergoing the abortion and their doctors who assisted.

The day before the ruling, Polish women turned out in enormous numbers to protest the proposed ban. It’s estimated that Warsaw, the Polish capital, saw around 30K+ women protesting. There were also protests around the country, with many women not going to work and many offices had to shut down for the day.

The proposed abortion ban came from a petition signed by 450K+ people. This represents 1.2% of Poland’s 38M+ residents.

A recent poll, taken before the protest and subsequent ruling, found that 74% of Polish residents don’t want the current abortion laws to change.

The U.S. Department of Justice Sues North Carolina over Controversial LGBT Law

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

The federal government has spoken, and it is not happy. Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state of North Carolina over its controversial HB2 law.

Quick recap: the non-infamous law bars any anti-discrimination legislation against any members of the LGBT community. Also commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” the law also decrees that any transgender person must use the bathroom of their assigned sex at birth instead of the one with which they identify. (For example, a transwoman would use the men’s restroom, regardless of her physical appearance.)

But what happened first is that the DOJ (led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina) gave North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, a.k.a. the one who started this whole mess, until Monday morning to negate the horrid new law. And guess what McCrory didn’t do?

Instead, McCrory decided to sue the DOJ, claiming that there needs to be legislation regulating “transgender bathroom use” (??) at the national level.

So guess what the DOJ did? The DOJ sued North Carolina right back.

This wasn’t completely out of the blue. The DOJ had previously threatened legal action if HB2 wasn’t repealed. The DOJ is now suing on the grounds that the bathroom restrictions discriminate against transgender people (no shit).

I’m very interested to see how this will play out. I have no doubt that justice will prevail, and McCrory will end up on the wrong side of the law/history. But how long will it take, and what other complications could come up?

 

France Outlaws Paying for Sex

French prostitutes (The Independent UK)

French prostitutes (The Independent UK)

Earlier this month, France made a major move: The country has now made paying for sex illegal.

If someone is caught paying for sex, they’ll be fined up to $1.7K for a first offense, and up to $4.2K+ for a second time. The offender may also be required to attend classes on sex workers’ conditions.

France isn’t the only country to pass a measure of this kind, or even the first: The country follows in the footsteps of the U.K., Sweden, Iceland, and Norway.

Advocates of the new ban claim that this will help sex workers get out of the trade. But sex workers are opposing this new measure, reasoning that it will expose them to more violence.

It’s estimated that France has between 20K to 40K sex workers. (Naturally, it’s difficult to get an accurate count.)