Privacy International report shows that European websites are selling mental health information and failing to meet the GDPR

A charity, Privacy International (PI) carried out a new study and is claiming that well-known websites of health in Europe share their users’ mental health information on a routine basis with data brokers, advertisers, and large tech companies.

The charity has analyzed over 136 popular web pages that were related to depression in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, by using the open-source tool called webxray in order to identify the companies that were collecting user data.

The report, titled, “Your Mental Health for Sale,” showed that around 97.78 percent of the analyzed web pages had a third-party element like the third-party cookies, an image that was hosted by a third-party server or JavaScript.

The investigation has also brought light to the fact that many of the web pages were enabling cookies that in turn enabled the targeting advertising from big companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

It was also claimed in the report that the companies that included the French website Doctissimo, as well as the German website Netdoktor, are using programmatic advertising with the Real-Time Bidding (RTB), in which several companies bid in the real-time for the sake of advertising space. PI has said that RTB has risked sharing personal data with a massive number of companies in the ecosystem of RTB along with information regarding device used and also the location of the user.

But the spokesperson of Doctissimo, Olivier Abecassis said that the website never used RTB for misuse of medical data and that the answers of their users to online depression tests were completely anonymous. Netdoktor, however, has not yet responded to the requests for comment.