- Dr. Phil backed the Aspire News app, which claims to allow domestic violence victims to covertly seek help.
- He even featured it several times on his eponymous show.
- But the app just leaked its victims’ information — and Dr. Phil needs to take responsibility.
Dr. Phil screwed up. Again.
The Aspire News app, a covert domestic violence app backed by the TV “doctor” and his wife, Robin, leaked its users’ information.
That could spell harm – literal harm – for some victims. And it once again shows the good doctor’s reckless disregard for the people he’s supposed to be helping.
The Dr. Phil-Backed App Seemed Like a Good Idea – But the Execution Couldn’t Have Been Worse
Aspire News was designed to look like a typical “news” app. Except it had functionality that included a feature to alert loved ones of a domestic violence emergency.
And, yes, Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin, backed the app.
But then, security researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar tested the Aspire News app and found some disturbing things. To wit:
When a victim taps the top bar of the app three times, the app can alert trusted contacts with a prewritten message, a prerecorded voice note and the victim’s precise location by text message to indicate that they need help or are in danger. But a security lapse meant that those uploaded voice recordings were left exposed on an unprotected cloud server for anyone to access.
And there’s more.
The cloud server contained over 4,000 recordings, dating back to September 2017. The recordings varied in length and nature, but some contained personally identifiable information, such as their name, address and phone number — information that could be relayed to the emergency services. At least one recording we listened to explicitly stated the name of the victim’s abuser.
While this is not the first time that Dr. Phil has done something questionable, this time, his “questionable” behavior could have widespread consequences.
Which One of the ‘Life Laws’ Applies Here?
Dr. Phil may not have personally developed the Aspire News app. But his show did advertise it as “The Smart Phone App that Could Save Your Life.”
Now that all these domestic violence victims have had their information exposed, they run the risk of facing severe harm from their abusers.
Nearly 50% of all murdered American women are killed by their romantic partners.
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.
And in 2019, the National Domestic Violence Hotline answered more than 300,000 calls — suggesting a disturbing trend.
According to Dr. Phil, one of the most important “life laws” involves acknowledging and accepting accountability for your life. Will he take responsibility for this?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.