Top Mental Health and Prayer Apps Fail Spectacularly at Privacy, Security

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From Mozilla: “When it comes to protecting people’s privacy and security, mental health and prayer apps are worse than any other product category Mozilla researchers have reviewed over the past six years, according to Mozilla’s latest *Privacy Not Included guide.

Released today for May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Mozilla investigated the privacy and security practices of 32 mental health and prayer apps, like Talkspace, Better Help, Calm, and Glorify. 28 of the 32 apps were slapped with a *Privacy Not Included warning label, indicating strong concerns over user data management. And 25 apps failed to meet Mozilla’s Minimum Security Standards, like requiring strong passwords and managing security updates and vulnerabilities.

Despite these apps dealing with incredibly sensitive issues — like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, domestic violence, eating disorders, and PTSD — they routinely share data, allow weak passwords, target vulnerable users with personalized ads, and feature vague and poorly written privacy policies.

. . . Says Jen Caltrider, Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included Lead: ‘The vast majority of mental health and prayer apps are exceptionally creepy. They track, share, and capitalize on users’ most intimate personal thoughts and feelings, like moods, mental state, and biometric data. Turns out, researching mental health apps is not good for your mental health, as it reveals how negligent and craven these companies can be with our most intimate personal information.’

Says Misha Rykov, Mozilla Researcher who co-developed guide: ‘Hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in these apps despite their flaws. In some cases, they operate like data-sucking machines with a mental health app veneer. In other words: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.'”

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