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STD dating site fined £10.4m for sharing users’ profiles without consent

A Californian dating site designed for people with sexually transmitted diseases is facing a charge of $16.4 million (£10.4 million) after losing a court case.

PositiveSingles, which advertises itself as a confidential website for those with STDs to communicate and date, was found to have broken consumer laws by sharing its users' profiles and photos. The site, which has more than 730,000 users, was also described by a state jury as malicious and oppressive in its operations.

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Parent company of the website, SuccessfulMatch, owns a number of niche dating sites and offers services for those wishing to start their own. As part of that service, it was found, the company gave out both the software and databases it owns. The databases contained the details of thousands of registered users' profiles, including their pictures.

Although PositiveSingles and SuccessfulMatch both have terms of service that note that profile details might be shared with other sites – including information about a users' sexual health – it was ruled that few members would ever have seen this stipulation.

Those who signed up unknowingly had their details shared on SuccessfulMatch's other sites, including AIDSDate, Herpesinmouth, ChristianSafeHaven, MeetBlackPOZ and PositivelyKinky.

Related: Most consumers are happy to share their personal info

According to the BBC, the jury agreed that the company had made misleading statements and ordered it to pay $1.5 million (£940,000) in compensatory damages, as well as $15 million (£9.3 million) in punitive damages.

Another case against the company is still active after two women attempted to sue in April. Though a judge dismissed it initially, the pair have filed an amended claim.