Headspace

Headspace

Review date: April 20, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Very creepy

Headspace says their mission is to improve the health and happiness of the world. Founded by a former monk who also seems to have a love for the circus, Headspace offers guided meditation and mindfulness tips as well music from John Legend to help you fall asleep. This popular app -- the company claims over 70 million members in 190 countries around the world -- says it wants to be 'your mind's best friend," which sure does sound nice. Seems your mind's best friend also might like to collect and share your data with places like Facebook and Google though so maybe hold off on that BFF label for now.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Headspace does collect some personal data on users, including -- name, e-mail address, phone number, devine infomation, app usage data, and Facebook ID -- although seemingly not as much as some of the other mental health apps we reviewed. Still, they collect your personal and app usage information and say they can share that information with third parties like Google and Facebook to target advertising and make personalizations within the app. Unfortunately, this is pretty standard practice for apps like this in our current data economy. Still, it's not great if you care more deeply about your privacy.

Does it matter if Facebook knows when you use a meditation app, if Google knows where you use the app, or if Headspace knows you're searching for a meditation to help you prepare for a big exam? It could. What's the worst that could happen? Well, here's a blog from Headspace talking about how they are developing machine learning applications to use your data in real-time to offer "recommendations that engage our users with new relevant, personalized content that builds consistent habits in their lifelong journey." New, consistent habits could also be interpreted as keeping users using the app as much as possible. One idea they mention in this post is to use users' biometric data such as steps or heart rate to then recommend in real-time more content to get them moving or exercising. OK, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But what more could a company potentially learn about you and do with that data? Perhaps learn your emotional state? Your anxiety level? And then target more content or advertising to you when you're more vulnerable? We don't think this is currently happening with Headspace. But the title of this section is "what could happen if something goes wrong?" And it seems, now or in the future, there are many things that could go wrong with this sort of vast data collection, processing, and the personalization and ad targeting that follows.

All in all, Headspace isn't the worst meditation app we reviewed. It does collect a good amount of data though, shares some of that data with third parties for things such as targeted advertising, and seems to be looking to use more of that data to keep you on the app as much as possible. Like we said, unfortunately, this is the norm for apps in our current data economy. The question is, should it be?

Tips to protect yourself

mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: N/A

App: No

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: No

Tracks location

Device: N/A

App: No

What can be used to sign up?

Facebook, Apple, Spotify and Google can be used for a sign-up

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Headspace does not sell your personal information to third parties. They do share a limited set of data that is gathered when you visit the app, such as cookies and pixels, with third parties in order to allow you to see tailored digital advertisements.

Headspace may share personal data with third parties, such as Facebook, in order to serve Headspace advertisements on such third party platforms, to the extent that you have consented to or have been provided with notice of, and an opportunity to opt-out of, such practices under applicable law.

Headspace may disclose the personal data that you have provided to Headspace to a third party that offers and/or provides goods or services complementary to their own for the purpose of enhancing our users’ experiences by offering you integrated or complementary functionality, complementary services or bundled pricing options.

Headspace can use your data to serve advertisements to you through third party platforms, such as Facebook or Google, on other sites and apps or across your devices, to the extent that you have provided consent and/or consistent with notice and any opt-out rights for such uses under applicable law.

Headspace includes social media features, such as the Facebook Like button, and widgets, such as the “Share This” button, or interactive mini-programs. These features may collect your Internet protocol address, which page you are visiting on or Products, and may set a cookie to enable the feature to function properly. Social media features and widgets are hosted by a third party or hosted directly on our Products. Your interactions with these features are governed by the privacy statement of the company providing it.

How can you control your data?

For data relating to your account: such data will be permanently and irrevocably anonymized in the event that your account is inactive for a period of two years; and not subscribed to “Headspace Plus.”

Moreover, Headspace will permanently and irrevocably anonymize your account data within 30 days of your written request to do so via email to [email protected]

When cookies or other trackers are placed on your terminal, they are kept for a period of 12 months.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

No known privacy or security incidents discovered in the last 3 years.

Child Privacy Information

The app has no age limit, and it promotes meditation for kids.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

You can download content to use it offline.

User-friendly privacy information?

No

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Headspace offers personalised and real-time suggestions to guided meditation

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Personalised offers

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

No

*privacy not included

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