Secrets for Sale

Secrets for Sale


Mental health is a deeply personal and sensitive topic. It is something that many of us are not comfortable discussing even with those closest to us. Finding a trusted professional to help is invaluable and online resources that include on-demand options continue to become more available. A quick Google search for ‘mental health help apps’ yields over 1 billion results!

Mental Health Data for sale on the Dark Web

With this increase in online offerings mental health data has become another commodity being sold by data brokers on the dark web.

This is a concerning development and one that is raising questions about the ethics of data collection, privacy, and the role of technology in our lives.

What Are Data Brokers?

Data brokers are companies that collect, analyse and sell data to other companies for marketing and advertising purposes. Where do they get the data?

One example is your customer loyalty card from your local shops. You might get discounts on groceries, alcohol and fuel or collect points but the store is simultaneously collecting data. Your purchases, demographics…it’s all there for them to see how to best serve you, how to market to you. But they can also sell that data to other companies for different uses.

Data brokers may facilitate this. This type of data collection happens regularly in all aspects of our online lives.

Online Health Resources

During and after the pandemic, there has been a rise in online mental health treatment offerings. Companies collect that data. This includes information on people’s psychological conditions, medications and therapy sessions. This information can then be sold to third parties, including insurance companies, employers and law enforcement agencies. This data can possibly be used to deny insurance coverage, discriminate in the workplace, and more.

The dark web, often used for illegal activities, is where information like this is sold.

These sales are often (if not always) done without the knowledge or consent of the individuals whose data is being sold. People are likely unaware that their information is being shared with others, potentially exposing them to discrimination or worse.

The sale of mental health data on the dark web is disturbing because it is often difficult to track or prevent or to hold data brokers accountable for their actions. Additionally, the nature of the data itself makes it challenging to know when it has been sold or how it is being used.

Technology is not the bad guy

The use of technology in mental health is a growing area of research and development. Many people are turning to convenient digital tools and apps to manage their mental health conditions with positive results.

However, this increased use of technology also means that more personal data is being generated and collected.

If you have any concerns over your current security or how to be better protected please reach out.