If you’ve downloaded any mental health apps, you might as well uninstall them. According to a study by researchers at the Mozilla Foundation, these applications do not offer sufficient protection with regard to the privacy and data of their users.
Are mental health apps less respectful of privacy? Although they cover very important topics such as depression, anxiety, violence, eating disorders or post-traumatic disorders or even suicide, most of these applications share our data freely. An investigation by Mozilla researchers of 32 such apps highlights their violations of privacy standards. In addition, these applications collect more data than the vast majority of other applications and other connected devices.
“The vast majority of mental health and prayer apps are extremely scary”warned Jen Caltrider, administrator of the Mozilla Privacy Not Included directory. “They track, share and exploit users’ deepest personal thoughts and feelings, such as moods, mental status and biometrics”† These mental health apps are mainly aimed at younger people. After all, the latter are more sensitive to psychological problems and do not necessarily pay attention to the use of their data. With certain information, they can be targeted with personalized ads for years to come.
“Data Vacuum Cleaners”
Of the 32 apps inspected by the Mozilla team, 28 have been labeled “privacy not included” (“Privacy Not Included”). This label indicates that researchers are concerned about how the app handles its users’ data. The privacy policies of these companies are perceived as vague by the survey. However, this does not prevent applications from collecting as much personal data as possible from its users. In addition, most of these applications offer: poor security around these accounts. Still, they contain very personal information about users.
“They work like data-sucking machines with a healthy app veneer”Mozilla researcher Misha Rykov said in a statement. “In other words: a wolf in sheep’s clothing”†
According to Mozilla, the apps with the worst security and privacy practices are: Woebot, Youper, Better Stop Suicide, Pray.com, Talkspace or even Better Help† Finally, despite Mozilla’s proposals to learn more about their privacy policies, only 3 (Hallow, Calm, and Wysa) applications responded out of 32. Only two platforms met the security standards: PTSD coachan application created by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the chatbot wysa†
(ETX Daily Up)