Meta and lawsuits against hospitals for sharing medical data

Prosecutors in the US are preparing two class actions against Meta and several other large hospitals. They shared sensitive health information with Facebook through the MetaPixel tool.

Meta Pixel is a tracking tool that can be placed on websites to get statistics and analytics for Facebook and Instagram ads. One of the things the tool tracks is what people click on and what information they enter on those websites.

Hospitals are also using the tool

The latter is annoying if the website is in a hospital. A study by the nonprofit The Markup found that 33 of the 100 largest US hospitals had a tracking device on their site. According to the lawsuits, they violated medical privacy laws by sending sensitive data to Facebook. These include the patient’s health, doctor’s appointments and allergies to certain medications. One of the witnesses in the case claims her data was sent to Facebook, whereupon she received targeted ads about heart disease.

Under the HIPAA Medical Privacy Act, US companies must obtain patient consent to share personal information with third parties. Meta says companies using the Meta Pixel should have the right to forward data. However, according to prosecutors, Meta is turning a blind eye to those rules, installing the pixel on sites the company knows can collect personal health data.

The cases are now in court to decide whether they should be recognized as a class action or a class action, after which they could impose fines on the affected user.

In association with Data News

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