BetterHelp owes clients $7.8M after FTC alleges information mishandling

The Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) is requiring on-line remedy firm BetterHelp to pay $7.8 million to consumers in a settlement over alleged information mishandling between 2017 and 2020. This marks the primary proposed FTC order that may compensate shoppers whose well being information was compromised.

In keeping with the FTC, BetterHelp assured clients that it might not share their well being information aside from the aim of offering counseling. However the FTC alleged that BetterHelp shared buyer emails, IP addresses and well being questionnaire responses with advertisers like Fb, Snapchat and Pinterest.

“The FTC alleged we used restricted, encrypted info to optimize the effectiveness of our promoting campaigns so we might ship extra related advertisements and attain individuals who could also be fascinated about our providers,” BetterHelp wrote in a statement. “This industry-standard follow is routinely utilized by a number of the largest well being suppliers, well being programs, and healthcare manufacturers.”

Clients who used BetterHelp between August 1, 2017 and December 31, 2020, when these promoting practices had been in impact, shall be eligible for partial refunds.

“When an individual battling psychological well being points reaches out for assist, they accomplish that in a second of vulnerability and with an expectation that skilled counseling providers will shield their privateness,” mentioned Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Client Safety, in a statement. “As an alternative, BetterHelp betrayed shoppers’ most private well being info for revenue.”

BetterHelp mentioned it has by no means acquired fee from any third events for details about its clients.

The FTC’s proposed order additionally requires BetterHelp to restrict how lengthy it may well retain buyer information and ask third events to delete shopper well being information that they shared. BetterHelp can also be ordered to acquire specific consent earlier than disclosing buyer well being info to 3rd events, and to develop a extra complete privateness program.

“This settlement, which is not any admission of wrongdoing, permits us to proceed to give attention to our mission to assist hundreds of thousands of individuals world wide get entry to high quality remedy,” BetterHelp wrote in its assertion.


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