Dr. Zuck Knows All: Lawsuits Claim Facebook Violated Patient Privacy with Health Data Tracking Tool

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies
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Two class-action lawsuits were recently filed against Facebook (now known as Meta) over allegations that the company and major U.S. hospitals violated medical privacy laws with a tracking tool that collected patient data such as allergies and doctor appointments directly to Mark Zuckerberg’s company.

The Verge reports that two class-action lawsuits are alleging that Facebook and major U.S. hospitals violated medical privacy laws with a tracking tool that sends health information directly to Mark Zuckerberg’s platform without patient approval.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ( Kevin Dietsch/Getty)

The lawsuits were filed in the Northern District of California in June and July and focused on Facebook’s Pixel tracking tool. The tool is installed on websites to track analytics on Facebook and Instagram ads. The pixel collects information about how people interact with websites and input information.

In early June, an investigation by the Markup found that 33 of the top 100 hospitals in the United States use the Facebook Pixel on their websites. The investigation found that the pixel tracking tool was installed on the password-protected patient portals of seven hospitals.

The Markup further found that the tool was sending information about patient health conditions, doctor appointments, and medication allergies to Facebook. In one lawsuit, a patient alleges that her medical information was sent to Facebook by the tool on the University of California San Francisco and Dignity Health patient portals. The patient was then served advertisements targeted to her heart and knee conditions.

The other lawsuit comes from a patient at the MedStar Health System in Baltimore, Maryland, and alleges that at least 664 healthcare providers sent medical data to Facebook using the Pixel tool.

The medical privacy law HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to receive patient consent to share personally identifiable health information with outside groups. Facebook states that it requires groups using the Pixel tool to have the right to share data before sending it to Facebook and that sensitive health data is filtered out.

The lawsuit claims that Facebook is knowingly not enforcing those policies and that it put the Pixel on healthcare organizations’ websites knowing that it would collect personal health information.

Read more at the Verge here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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