Briefing: Chinese lesbian dating app Rela exposed 5 million user profiles
Mar 28, 2019
What happened: Dutch security researcher Victor Gevers found an unsecured database containing 5.3 million user profiles on a popular gay and queer Chinese dating app, Rela. The profiles included nicknames, dates of birth, height, weight, ethnicity, sexual preferences, interests and, in some cases, geolocation. The data were found on a server that was not password-protected. Gevers believes the user records have been exposed since June 2018.
Why it’s important: The LGBTQ+ community in China still faces stigmatization and discrimination. Gay dating apps have found a big market by enabling individuals to connect in the safety of the online world. Established apps like Blued have attracted multiple rounds of investment and boast large user bases, but many others face legal obstacles. Rela disappeared from app stores in May 2017 amid reports that the government shut it down, though officials never confirmed. It reappeared a year later. Zank, a well-known app for gay and bisexual men was shut down because of laws against pornographic content.