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Crisis Text Line ends data-sharing relationship with for-profit spinoff

The nonprofit mental-health hotline Crisis Text Line announced Monday that it’s ending its data-sharing relationship with its for-profit spinoff Loris.ai, a move that comes three days after POLITICO reported on concerns the arrangement had raised among privacy experts and some of its own volunteers.

“We understand that you don’t want Crisis Text Line to share any data with Loris, even though the data is handled securely, anonymized and scrubbed of personally identifiable information,” Crisis Text Line wrote in a statement on its website. “As a result, we have ended our data-sharing relationship with Loris.”

The nonprofit, founded in 2013, has gathered what it has called “the largest mental health data set in the world” as part of its work offering free, text-based crisis response to people suffering from traumas such as emotional abuse and thoughts of suicide. The nonprofit, which relied on data-crunching and artificial intelligence to improve its response, created Loris in 2018 to use the insights from those conversations to assist companies with customer service.

In its statement Monday, Crisis Text Line said it has asked that Loris delete data it has received from the nonprofit and updated its terms of service and privacy policy accordingly. It added that Loris has not accessed any data since the start of 2020.

In its update, the nonprofit solicited people’s ideas about how to be more transparent and redoubled its pledges to be more open, saying that “trust is critical” to its mission.

“We hear you,” Crisis Text Line said. “We will always aim to hold ourselves to the highest standards. We are grateful for the feedback from community members and experts.”

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