Health startup Cerebral is facing intense scrutiny and backlash after it inadvertently shared private data with tech giants like Alphabet Inc. GOOG GOOGL, Meta Platforms Inc. META and TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance.
What Happened: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is investigating Cerebral for sharing the personal information of more than 3.1 million U.S. patients with tech giants and advertisers, including Google, Meta and TikTok.
In the notice the startup issued last week, it said, “On January 3, 2023, Cerebral determined that it had disclosed certain information that may be regulated as protected health information (“PHI”) under HIPAA to certain Third-Party Platforms and some Subcontractors without having obtained HIPAA-required assurances.”
The information includes patients’ names, phone numbers, birth dates and insurance information. In some instances, it may have even disclosed the data gathered through mental health self-assessment tests used to book counseling appointments and other services.
According to the startup, it didn’t share information like social security numbers, bank information or credit card numbers.
Why It’s Important: The latest data exposure news comes after the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, fined discount drug app GoodRx $1.5 million for sharing sensitive patient information with the likes of Meta and Google, reported Engadget.
The regulatory body also announced a $7.8 million settlement with BetterHelp, an online counseling company. It also said that FTC is moving to block the company from sharing health data, including mental health information, with tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat.
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