Researchers from the Mozilla Foundation reviewed the privacy policies of 32 mental health apps ranging from guided meditation to telehealth counseling services and flagged 28 of them as having “Privacy Not Included.” In addition, the report sorts the apps from “Not creepy!” to “Super creepy!” (The rankings are each accompanied by a delightful emoji face displaying the appropriate amount of concern.) The team also detailed each app, laying out specific concerns.
The Department of Veteran Affairs’ “PTSD Coach” is the gold standard from the “Not creepy!” camp, as it doesn’t collect any personal data and lets users opt-out of anonymized sharing. The researchers’ only gripe was that the Google Play Store app hadn’t been updated in a while – not a bad review for an app from the V.A.!
On the other hand, several telehealth apps were at the top of the “Super creepy” category. The report describes how these apps collect vast amounts of sensitive personal information through their intake forms and have “vague and messy” privacy policies riddled with red flags. For example, one policy hadn’t been updated since 2018, and another gave the company – again, a mental health care provider – the right to sell information to advertisers.