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New Lawsuit Filed Against Meta And Top US Hospitals For Unlawfully Collecting Patient Data For Advertising Purposes

Meta and a series of leading healthcare-providing institutions across the US have received a lawsuit that was recently put forward by California’s Northern District.

Common hospitals included the likes of UCSF Medical Center and Dignity Health Medical Foundation. They, alongside tech giant Meta, were accused of assembling sensitive patient records so they could be made use of for purposes like targeted advertising.

It was alleged that the process through which such tracking and data collection occurs in a number of medical portals is far beyond the limitations of login systems.

Here is where so many parents put forward an array of details regarding themselves, their particular health condition, their healthcare professionals, and any drugs they were taking.

While extracting such sensitive and confidential data, neither do US hospitals or Meta take consent or inform the patients about their data being used. At the same time, there happens to be a complete lack of transparency involved.

But how exactly did we come to know about all of this?

Well, the plaintiffs mentioned how this sort of violation against one’s privacy was only made obvious when Meta-owned apps like Facebook started to target such individuals with advertisements that were specifically customized in regard to their particular health condition.

This gave rise to a new term that not too many may be familiar with. It’s called Meta Pixel which is another name for a code that is injected across any webpage so that visitor profiling can be carried out, along with user data collection with benefits of tailored advertising too.

While it manages to take up space linked to a specific pixel, it can powerfully collect all sorts of important data like button clicks, data in forms, IP links, and even various scrolling behavior.

You don’t even require a Facebook account to get your data collected. But in case you already have one, well, it’s going to be linked to your account and further correlated for more information.

The worst part is related to how Meta Pixels gets installed across various websites, you can well be tracked with particular advertisements across different internet locations.

Interestingly, new research even found the feature sighted across some of the leading websites around the globe, such as those linked to clinics, hospitals, and anti-abortion locations.

Meta has been accused of being spotted on at least 33 of the top websites as experts delineated its tracking code on these pages. Similarly, at least 100 hospitals were also guilty of such behavior, the research adds.

And worsening stats showed that one of the medical centers involved had even admitted patients as high as 26 million in just 2020.

The legal documents proved how so many patients were bombarded with targeted advertising strategies through their emails and also through Facebook. They were told about medications, medical services, and some treatments that had zero to no support too.

Plaintiffs felt extremely disappointed as they had never signed up for this and were still being targeted and stripped of their personal medical records.

The case argues that both parties involved knew all along that their methods of collecting data were wrong and unlawful, yet they moved ahead with it. They even went about hiding it from the relevant authorities.

This just goes to show that the big promises made by leading tech companies like Meta about filtering out user-specific data are ineffective, as was previously noted in February of last year.

For this reason, plaintiffs want an immediate explanation and relief from these respective parties for invading their privacy and going above the law for their own personal interests and benefits.


H/T: BC

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