California Governor Gavin Newsom wants to provide mental health counseling for your children via your phone.
This week, the governor’s office announced the launch of two new apps “to provide digital mental health support to teens, young adults and families.”
The Brightlife Kids app is said to provide “mental health guidance and resources for parents of children aged 0-12 years.” The Soluna app is aimed directly at children, without parental involvement. It is said to “provide mental health guidance and resources for teens and young adults aged 13-25.”
The “groundbreaking new program” will provide “free, safe and confidential” mental health support, according to the state’s website. At solunaapp.com, where teens can download the app to their phones, the government promises users can use interactive tools such as a “mood log,” chat one-on-one with a “coach” and get or give advice on the Soluna forum.
The state promised it would “always be anonymous.” “Rest assured that your experience with the app is completely anonymous and your data is private and secure.”
California is committed to complete data privacy and security. That plus six dollars will buy you a cup of coffee.
Let’s start with the obvious risk that sexual predators may take advantage of protected anonymity to pose as teenagers and “offer advice.” This doesn’t even take into account the possibility that someone with ill motives might find a way to become a “coach” and chat one-on-one with disadvantaged kids.
What precautions are in place?
Then let’s look at the state’s record on protecting classified data. We can start with a database of people vaccinated against COVID-19, which is open to a political consulting and organizing firm called Street Level Campaigns, LLC. Street Level Strategy, LLC, which describes itself as a “sister organization,” received a “list of eligible California residents” from the California Department of Public Health that included “name, age, gender, race, contact information and vaccination history.”
This is what CDPH itself says, and when I looked into the state contract for street-level strategies in 2022, CDPH responded to questions about the contract via email. This is despite the fact that, according to the state, the vaccination database is a “confidential registry.”
Then, data from an entire confidential database of Californians with concealed weapons permits was also leaked. The Attorney General’s Office investigated and concluded that this was not intentional. excellent.
Overall, information technology in California has been a gaping hole in the information highway. You may have heard that the Employment Development Department paid out tens of billions of dollars to fraudsters, while Californians who actually lost their jobs were plagued by delays and account freezes. Overdue technology upgrades would be extremely lengthy and expensive for the Department of Motor Vehicles and even the state comptroller’s office. FI$Cal is a state financial management system that is expected to take six years and cost $138 million. That was in 2005. By some time in 2022, the price will exceed $1 billion.
But cost is only a small part of the problem.
“Information security in the state remains a high-risk issue,” the California auditor wrote in an August 2023 report.
Now consider that the state is tricking teenagers into downloading an app on their phones that allows them to connect with strangers for “advice.”
Last year, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 665 into law, allowing children as young as 12 to move into residential facilities to receive mental health services without their parents’ knowledge. Any number of “professionals” on the law’s newly expanded list, even “social work interns,” can decide not to tell a child’s parents. Medi-Cal will cover the cost, providing a financial incentive to attract customers.
Why does California do this?
These are all part of Governor Newsom’s “Children’s Mental Health Master Plan” released in August 2022. “The global pandemic has shone a spotlight on our nation’s mental health crisis and the heavy toll borne by the youngest among us,” the report said, explaining that there was no mention of Newsom keeping public schools closed for too long, let alone Talk about the damage outdoor playgrounds and even beaches are doing to California’s youngest residents.
Instead of closing state prisons, the governor should be locked up in one of them.
Write to [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Susan_Shelley