Meta (formerly Facebook) has been sued for violating patient privacy with a data tracking tool in the US.
Two proposed class-action lawsuits alleged that Meta and major US hospitals used a Meta Pixel tracking tool that sends health information to Facebook, reports The Verge.
In June, an investigation by The Markup found that several hospital websites have a tracking tool that sends sensitive medical information to Facebook when people schedule appointments.
The hospitals using the tool may be violating the medical privacy law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Under the medical privacy law, hospitals and healthcare organizations need patient consent to share personally identifiable health information with outside groups.
The Meta tool can be installed on websites to provide analytics on Facebook and Instagram ads.
“It also collects information about how people click around and input information into those websites,” said the report.
The lawsuits will now have to be certified as class actions by a judge before they can move forward.
Patients alleged in the lawsuits that their medical information was sent to Facebook by the Meta Pixel tool, which was later “served advertisements targeted to her heart and knee conditions”.
One of the lawsuits alleged at least 664 healthcare providers have sent medical data to Facebook through the Meta Pixel.