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Tinder to launch government-ID based verification feature for users worldwide soon

Apart from verification, Tinder said that it also plans on cross-referencing the IDs with sex offenders lists; this type of verification also makes an appearance in India’s draft PDP Bill. 

Tinder is going to roll out a government ID-based verification feature to all of its users ‘over the coming quarters’, the dating app said in its press release on August 16.

The draft Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill 2019 which was under consideration by a Joint Parliamentary Committee, had also included a provision for social media companies to allow users to voluntarily verify their identity by providing government-issued proofs. However, the linking of government IDs to dating apps or social media profiles raises fears of privacy violations as personal (even biometric) information can be shared with private organisations. This is particularly concerning in the absence of a data protection law. Along with this, particularly in the case of dating apps, experts have raised concerns about potential profiling by the government, especially members of the LGBTQ+ and other minority communities.

How the verification process could take place

In the press release, the company said that the process would begin as voluntary, except in countries where such verification is mandatory – for example in Japan, ID-based verification is necessary to prove that a dating app user is above the age of 18.

In Japan, according to a Tinder guide, the verification process involves the submission of a scanned passport, driver’s license, or health ID by the user which is then used to verify their age. The data that is collected is retained for up to 90 days ‘for quality assurance purposes’ following which the app only retains the results of the verification.

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For this latest feature, the company does not reveal how the verification process would take place. However, a report by TechCrunch quotes a Tinder spokesperson as saying that the platform will also use ID verification to cross-reference data with the sex offenders registry in regions where that information is accessible. Another report by The Next Web notes that the ID-based verification will issue a verification badge to users.

Indian government’s efforts to verify social media users

  • The draft PDP bill has a clause for voluntary account verification through government IDs which privacy experts had flagged since the clause raised privacy concerns, possibly inviting restrictions on freedom of speech as well.
  • In 2016, the Indian government had issued an advisory to matrimonial websites advising them to adopt a framework ‘to provide for user verification’ by registering the user’s mobile number and also encouraging users to submit identity and address proofs.

Other tools Tinder uses for verification

Photo verification: At present, Tinder verifies users by asking them to pose a certain way and click a selfie; upon verification, it issues a badge to users.

Background checks: Last year, the company announced a partnership with background-checking company Garbo. However, the facility for background checks is reportedly not yet available for Tinder users.

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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