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Mental health apps and concerns over data breaches

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Some statistics have put the number of downloads for mental health apps at one million since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and these apps have been around for quite some time.

The additional strain that the pandemic is causing on our mental wellbeing is widely recognised, and the increased usage of such apps doesn’t come as a surprise. But people do need to be careful, and some apps will be more secure than others. It’s a perfect opportunity for scammers to try to muscle their way in to get hold of sensitive information too.

So, should we be concerned, what may happen if an app is breached, and what can we do to help people?

Should we be concerned about data breaches for mental health apps?

We should be concerned when it comes to the general security of mental health apps. A lot of general apps have questionable security anyway, and it’s not always clear to users just how much of their data will be shared when using such apps.

For many, it’s also not clear in terms of how apps interact with other apps and browsers on people’s devices. Although companies make use of lengthy consent forms and contractual obligations when apps are downloaded, who really spends the time to reads these? For those that do, does it all really make that much sense?

The fact is, medical data is one of the most personal and sensitive types of data that there is. This information, in the hands of people with malicious intentions, could be used to do serious harm to people. A lot of the cases that we take forward are for medical data claims because the impact can be severe. It’s also a targeted sector for scammers and hackers, so the increased use of these apps should be a concern for all.

We know that hackers are targeting people during the pandemic, and these kinds of apps – when they’re unsecure – could be prime targets.

The impact for the victims

As a leading firm of consumer action and data breach compensation specialists that represents thousands of clients for individual claims, and in over 35 group cases, we understand the impact of a data breach. With our history in this complex and niche area of law dating back to 2014, which is a lot longer than most other firms, we’re used to helping those whose data has been misused or exposed.

We have represented victims of perhaps the most infamous medical data breach the UK has ever seen, the 56 Dean Street Clinic leak. This incident saw the HIV status of almost 800 patients leaked which, as you can imagine, has had a severe impact on victims. So, when we say that we understand the impact of a severe data breach, we really do.

And this is precisely why the increased use of mental health apps is a concern for us. It’s a given that many people making use of these apps may already have mental health needs, and this in itself could make a breach more severe. The distress that can be caused by a breach can be significant, and victims of an incident can claim for the distress caused by the loss of control of personal information. When the victim’s mental health is already fragile, the impact for them could be even worse.

Data breach compensation values for those with pre-existing conditions can be substantial as we recognise the additional harm that can be caused.

How we help you

We can help anyone who falls victim to a data breach that arises from mental health apps. You are not alone, and you have a voice; and we are here for you.

We can take legal cases forward for compensation and we can represent victims for claims on a No Win, No Fee basis. We’re proud to be able to also offer free and no-obligation advice for victims who speak to us about their options for justice.

You can speak to the team today during our extended office opening hours up until 10pm on most weeknights, or on weekends from 9am to 5pm. We don’t outsource to contact centres either; you are speaking to real employees of the firm who usually work in the office, but most are working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

We’re here to help you.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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