Online counseling platform BetterHelp shares users’ data with companies like Facebook and Snapchat for advertising purposes without explicit consent, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges.
The company, which trades under a series of other names, has agreed to pay $7.8 million in damages to consumers who signed up for its services between August 1, 2017, and December 31, 2020.
Subject to the 30-day public comment period, the FTC will make a final decision to direct BetterHelp to carry out a series of responsibilities that may result in BetterHelp having to stop sharing personally identifiable information with third parties.
BetterHelp Data Sharing
According to the Federal Trade Commission documentand email addresses, IP addresses, health status, and history — including current and past treatments — shared with third parties. BetterHelp, he explains, “promises over and over again to keep [this data] private and used only for non-advertising purposes,” which has since been discovered as a bug for seven years dating from 2013 to 2020.
It was also found that staff lacked adequate training to handle sensitive data, and that third-party companies were given permission in a number of cases to use the data in their research and product development.
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Data has been shared in many cases for a long period of time. Between 2017 and 2018, for example, BetterHelp uploaded more than 7 million Facebook email addresses. The platform later matched 4 million of those with existing Facebook user accounts.
IP address sharing has also been used to retarget former users with more ads in an effort to increase revenue.
in response to the case, best help to explain:
To be clear, we do not share, and have never shared with advertisers, publishers, social media platforms, or other similar parties, private information such as member names or clinical data from therapy sessions. In addition, we do not and have never received payment from any party. third in exchange for any kind of information about any of our members.”
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