Online counseling service BetterHelp Inc. faces a ban on sharing consumer data for advertising purposes as part of a proposed settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
BetterHelp is also poised to pay $7.8 million to resolve the FTC’s claims that it misled consumers about keeping their mental health information private and shared data to advertise its services.
BetterHelp used consumers’ email addresses and the fact that they had previously been in therapy to instruct
Consumer data was also shared with other third parties such as
BetterHelp, which didn’t admit wrongdoing, said the use of “limited, encrypted information” was intended to deliver more relevant ads and reach people who may be interested in its services.
“To clarify, we do not share and have never shared with advertisers, publishers, social media platforms, or any other similar third parties, private information such as members’ names or clinical data from therapy sessions,” BetterHelp said in a statement. “In addition, we do not receive and have never received any payment from any third party for any kind of information about any of our members.”
The $7.8 million that BetterHelp must pay under the FTC’s proposed order will be used to provide partial refunds to consumers who used BetterHelp’s services between August 2017 and December 2020, according to the commission.
Advertising company Criteo said it can’t comment on the FTC’s complaint, noting in a statement that it’s not named as a defendant and hasn’t been contacted by the agency.
Advertisers are prohibited from sharing health data or other sensitive information with Snap Inc.'s Snapchat under its terms of service, according to a company statement.
“Last year we became aware that BetterHelp violated our terms, and in response to this violation we deleted the health data we received from BetterHelp from our systems and stopped BetterHelp from sharing any additional health information with us,” a Snap spokesperson said in an email.
Pinterest didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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