Most mental health apps have 'exceptionally creepy' privacy practices, report finds

Mental health apps have worse privacy policies for users than most other app categories, according to a report released May 2 by Mozilla.

Mozilla researchers analyzed the user privacy protections for 32 mental health and prayer apps, finding that 29 required a "privacy not included" warning indicating concerns about how user data is managed and shared. 

"The vast majority of mental health and prayer apps are exceptionally creepy," Jen Caltrider, Mozilla's lead researcher for the report, told The Verge. "They track, share and capitalize on users' most intimate personal thoughts and feelings, like moods, mental state and biometric data."

Ms. Caltrider and her team found most of the apps collected large amounts of highly sensitive personal data under vague privacy policies. They also found most of the apps have subpar cybersecurity protocols, including allowing users to create accounts using weak passwords.

Mozilla's report said Talkspace, Better Help, Better Stop Suicide, Pray.com, Youper and Woebot are the apps with the worst privacy policies. For example, Woebot collects data about its users from third parties and shares user data for advertising purposes, and Talkspace collects its users' chat transcripts.

Mozilla said it reached out to the apps to ask about their privacy policies, but only three responded.

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