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Samaritans seeks legal advice over controversial new 'suicide prevention app'

The ‘Radar’ app allows users to monitor people they follow on Twitter.
Nov 5th 2014, 2:25 PM 7,299 9

SUICIDE PREVENTION CHARITY Samaritans has said that it has consulted lawyers over its controversial new app.

Samaritans Radar allows Twitter users to sign up for email notifications when anyone they follow uses certain keywords that may indicate they are having mental health difficulties or are suicidal.

The charity has released a statement saying it sought legal advice after people voiced their concerns about privacy and data protection issues. People who are being monitored will not be made aware of this fact.

Activist Adrian Short has created an online petition asking for the app to be scrapped. It has received over 1,000 signatures since Sunday.

Joe Ferns, Executive Director of Policy, Research and Development at Samaritans, said that since the app launched last week the charity has been “actively listening to both the positive comments … as well as the concerns raised around data protection and privacy”.

Ferns said that, having received legal advice, the organisation is confident that “Samaritans Radar is compliant with the relevant data protection legislation”.

He reiterated that the app doesn’t process private tweets, and said he believes it will help safe lives.

However, opponents to the app have expressed fresh concern at his comment that: “Samaritans is neither the data controller or data processor of the information passing through the app.”

Ferns stated that the charity is”in discussions with the Information Commissioner’s Office and will take on board any direction they give us”.

We condemn any behaviour which would constitute bullying or harassment of anyone using social media. If people experience this kind of behaviour as a result of Radar or their support for the App, we would encourage them to report this immediately to Twitter, who take this issue very seriously.

“We are entering into new territory with this App and understand that there are a wide variety of opinions. However, we strongly believe that it will help support people struggling to cope and ultimately save lives.”

Source: Samaritans/YouTube

Is the new Samaritans app an invasion of privacy or will it save lives?

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Órla Ryan

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