Mental health and prayer apps offer lower privacy protections than most other types of apps, according to a new study by Mozilla researchers. The team also discovered that prayer apps had low privacy requirements.
“The vast majority of mental health and prayer apps are incredibly intrusive,” said Jen Caltrider, Mozilla’s guide lead for privacy. “Moods, mental states, and physiological data are among the personal thoughts and feelings that these services track, share with others, and profit from.”
The guide’s newest revision included an analysis of 32 applications for mental health and prayer. A “privacy not included” warning label was attached to 29 of the apps, indicating that the team had issues about how the app handled user data.
According to the statement, the apps are supposed to address sensitive concerns like mental health conditions, yet they collect enormous quantities of personal data under unclear privacy policies. Users were able to create accounts with weak passwords on most apps, despite the fact that these apps included highly personal information.
Among the apps Mozilla considers to have the worst practises are Better Help, Woebot, Better Stop Suicide, Pray.com, and Talkspace. Users’ personal information is shared with other parties for advertising reasons by Woebot, an AI chatbot. The chat transcripts of Talkspace’s users are stored.
Mozilla stated in a statement that it contacted the companies behind these apps several times to inquire about their rules, but just three did so. Most therapists have long waiting lists, and figuring out insurance and charges can be a huge obstacle to getting the help you need.
A growing number of people need medical attention as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This hole was sought to be filled by mental health apps that made services more easily available. The analysis indicates, however, that this access may come at a cost in terms of privacy. Misha Rykov, a Mozilla researcher, described the apps as “data-sucking devices with a mental health app veneer.” The wolf in sheep’s clothing, to put it another way.