Online Depression Tests Are Collecting and Sharing Your Data

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Online Depression Tests Are Collecting and Sharing Your Data

Illustration for article titled Online Depression Tests Are Collecting and Sharing Your Data

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Casually browsing the web comes with the expectation that you’re probably going to be tracked by data brokers who are thirsty for your internet habits, but one might also expect that on certain corners of the web, your information is treated with more sensitivity. But a new report found that even on mental health websites, your privacy is second to generating those sweet personalized ads.

This week, Privacy International published a report—Your mental health for sale—which explored how mental health websites handle user data. The digital rights nonprofit looked at 136 mental health webpages across Google France, Google Germany and the UK version of Google, according to the report. They chose websites based on advertised links and featured page search results for depression-related terms in French, German, and English, and also included the most visited sites according to web analytics service SimilarWeb.

According to the report, the organization used the open-source software webxray to identify third-party HTTP requests and cookies. It then analyzed the websites on July 8th of this year. The analysis found that 97.78 percent of the webpages had a third-party element, which might include cookies, JavaScript, or an image hosted on an outside server. And Privacy International also pointed out that its research found that the main reason for these third-party elements was for advertising.

Webxray’s analysis found that 76.04 percent of the webpages had trackers for marketing purposes—80.49 percent of the pages in France, 61.36 percent of the pages in Germany, and 86.27 percent of them in the UK. Among the third-party trackers also included the likes of advertising services from Google, Facebook, and Amazon, with Google trackers being the most pr

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