While people currently know that Facebook collects and shares their information, mental health apps are not the type of app anyone would expect to collect data. Users visit these sites seeking help and assume that their information is protected as if they were personally visiting a local person for mental health help. The last thing anyone should worry about is how their information is being used.
Mozilla created a “Privacy Guide Not Included” when it analyzed 32 mental health and wellness applications and was working on 29 of them. Some of the issues were that their privacy policies weren’t clear about what they were doing with the data. Infrastructure platforms include therapy sites, BetterHelp, and Talkspace. Conversation space collects user-generated transcripts, but says it doesn’t share medical information, but can be used for direct marketing. BestHelp collects data from a patient’s intake questionnaire. Both sites collect “name, age, email address and phone number”. The BetterHelp site states that you can share information with third parties, such as advertisers and “subsidiaries or controlling companies within your group of companies.”
Other uses that are the culprits are Better Stop Suicide and Calm. Mozilla Better’s analysis reveals a suicide that can share a user’s information with practically anyone, since they are not strangers. Most of the information collected is simple and includes residential addresses and IP addresses. No one wants them to be collected and shared, but with BetterHelp collecting and potentially sharing data about how you feel, this is even more alarming. The Calmo meditation app also collects data about the humor of its users. It is used for targeted advertising. Is this something most apps do, but like Mozilla, and if the user gets stressed, it shows a wine ad and it’s an alcohol in recovery? A user’s mental health should never be used for targeted advertising. This should always be within two limits so that information can be collected and used.
Source: Mozilla Foundation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5