New regulations can catch unprepared companies off guard, putting them in a precarious position. However, wise anticipation of developing laws can help secure a company’s future. Fortunately, the latter situation is where Match Group, an international dating services provider with a portfolio of brands—including Tinder, Match.com, Hinge, OkCupid, and others—under its umbrella finds itself. With Jared Sine, Match’s chief legal officer and secretary, at the helm, the legal department is ideally positioned to handle ever-changing legal directives.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the European Union in May of 2018. This regulation dictated that companies require the consent of users for data processing, the anonymization of data to protect privacy, data breach notifications, and the safe handling of data transferred across borders.
GDPR sent ripples across the world in terms of data management regulations, including in the United States, where many states are looking to develop their own individual mandates. This is creating a complicated mess of contradictory rules, which spells disaster for companies that are reliant on data but are ill-equipped to handle the increasing regulations. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), for example, provides similar—but not identical—consumer protections regulations to GDPR. Many other states have looked at the precedents set by CCPA and have begun developing similar acts in their own states.
The legal complexity is amplified for companies like Match, which operates globally and bases its business on the collection of personal data. Both GDPR and CCPA create liability for such platforms. “GDPR creates a whole new regulatory regime and framework for businesses like ours to deal with,” Sine says. “What data we collect, how we collect it, who we collect it from, what consents we get when we are collecting it, what rights we have relative to the data, what rights other users have relative to their data.”
Therefore, Sine has gone far beyond what is legally required to develop strict data processes and policies for Match. “We don’t want an EU user to be treated differently than a US user. We are going to give those rights to everybody.” This allows Match and its affiliated services to offer consumers the same great experience regardless of the regulations in their country.
These modifications represent an ongoing process, as the duty of a platform to its users and the public is becoming more regulated by the government. Many shields protecting platforms are being removed, and liability is increasing, which has been a major problem for companies that hadn’t put much thought into their data collection and management systems. Many were forced to shut down their websites to EU users, with notices indicating their failure to comply with GDPR, or were hit with large fines. But Match and its affiliates had implemented a privacy program that met GDPR’s guidelines by the time the regulation went into effect.
There is also legislation coming down the pipeline that punishes platforms for illegal content that users post onto it, but because of the measures that Sine and the company have been proactively pursuing for the purpose of improved user experience, they expect to be unaffected when the legislation passes.
“We want to make sure that we are doing the best we can to try to be in front of these potential changes, but also to do the right thing for our users.”
“We want to make sure that we are doing the best we can to try to be in front of these potential changes, but also to do the right thing for our users,” Sine explains.
Match’s emphasis on user protection is evident in its devoting more than ten percent of its total workforce to security. “Instead of taking off-the-shelf tools that third parties have built,” Sine says, “we’ve built our own tools that really understand how our platforms work.” It is this unusual commitment to privacy and user protection that allows Match’s users to trust the brand—and to feel comfortable putting themselves fully out there in hopes of developing meaningful connections.
For Jared Sine, this is what it is all about: the connections. “Relationships are the ultimate social good,” he says. With the rates of suicide and loneliness mounting among young people, the importance of fostering these interpersonal relationships is growing. This focus on getting people together offline, out in the real world, is a unique feature of Match and its affiliates. That is why safety is vital to Sine and his team.
The benefits of these efforts are manifold. Sine notes the results of a recent MIT study showing that “relationships that start online tend to be more diverse, and they tend to be more stable.” In fostering such relationships, the company is “expanding the footprint of diversity and inclusion—all those good things that everybody wants.”
The end result of Match’s devotion to the privacy and safety of its users: it has exceeded the requirements of each privacy act and regulation that has come down the pike. The company’s continued effort to protect users’ data and provide a safe and exciting experience makes it a future-proof service that strengthens the social fabric, stemming the rising tide of isolation by supporting genuine, real-life connections.
Going the Extra Mile for Privacy and User Safety
Match has voluntarily taken responsibility and legal liability upon itself and put forth impressive measures to protect users’ data and both online and offline experiences. These include algorithms to aid in removing bots and bad actors in addition to protecting against data breaches on the back end. The company has developed AI to proactively protect users from damaging images and content posted on the site. It has also created an external advisory council with recruited individuals from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as well as other experts in sexual assault prevention and from antiviolence organizations.