The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is requiring online therapy company BetterHelp to pay $7.8 million to consumers in a settlement over alleged data mishandling between 2017 and 2020. This marks the first proposed FTC order that would compensate consumers whose health data was compromised.
According to the FTC, BetterHelp assured customers that it would not share their health data except for the purpose of providing counseling. But the FTC alleged that BetterHelp shared customer emails, IP addresses and health questionnaire responses with advertisers like Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest.
“The FTC alleged we used limited, encrypted information to optimize the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns so we could deliver more relevant ads and reach people who may be interested in our services,” BetterHelp wrote in a statement. “This industry-standard practice is routinely used by some of the largest health providers, health systems, and healthcare brands.”
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