BetterHelp to Pay $7.8 Million for Allegedly Divulging Private Health Data for Advertising Purposes

  • The FTC issued a proposed order to settle allegations that online mental health counseling service BetterHelp, Inc. violated of Section 5 of the FTC Act shared sensitive mental health data with third parties in order to facilitate targeted advertising, despite assurances to consumers that their health data would be kept private.
  • According to the complaint, BetterHelp allegedly provided consumers’ email addresses, IP addresses, and health questionnaire information to third parties, including Snapchat, Criteo, and Pinterest, in order to aid those third-party platforms in identifying similar individuals to target with advertisements for BetterHelp’s counseling services. BetterHelp allegedly did so despite repeatedly assuring consumers that their private health information would be kept confidential and would only be used for counseling services.
  • Under the terms of the order, BetterHelp must pay $7.8 million to provide partial refunds to consumers, is prohibited from disclosing health information for advertising and from misrepresenting its data sharing practices, and must institute programs to prevent future privacy violations.