BetterHelp to Pay $7.8 Million for Deceiving Customers After Promising to Keep Sensitive Data Private

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From the FTC: “The Federal Trade Commission has issued a proposed order banning online counseling service BetterHelp, Inc. from sharing consumers’ health data, including sensitive information about mental health challenges, for advertising. The proposed order also requires the company to pay $7.8 million to consumers to settle charges that it revealed consumers’ sensitive data with third parties such as Facebook and Snapchat for advertising after promising to keep such data private.

This is the first Commission action returning funds to consumers whose health data was compromised. In addition, the FTC’s proposed order will ban BetterHelp from sharing consumers’ personal information with certain third parties for re-targeting—the targeting of advertisements to consumers who previously had visited BetterHelp’s website or used its app, including those who had not signed up for the company’s counseling service. The proposed order also will limit the ways in which BetterHelp can share consumer data going forward.

‘When a person struggling with mental health issues reaches out for help, they do so in a moment of vulnerability and with an expectation that professional counseling services will protect their privacy,’ said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. ‘Instead, BetterHelp betrayed consumers’ most personal health information for profit.'”

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