Meta Pixel Privacy Lawsuit: Targeting Meta
Plaintiffs claim that the hospital systems were sending protected health information to Facebook through the Pixel tool without patient consent, which protected health information was then unlawfully used to create and serve individual plaintiffs with personalized ads. On August 15, 2023, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III issued an order denying Meta’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing the lawsuit to proceed for Meta’s alleged violations of (among other things) federal and state wiretap laws and the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA); and California state larceny law. In his order, Judge Orrick dismissed but permitted the Plaintiffs to amend their privacy allegations, by requiring that the Plaintiffs describe the types or categories of sensitive health information they provided through their devices to their healthcare providers.
Meta Pixel Privacy Lawsuit: Re-Targeting Meta
On Monday, May 8, in a separate would-be class action, the same judge, Judge Orrick, allowed a lawsuit against the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) to proceed. In this suit, a Meta Pixel privacy lawsuit similar to John Doe, plaintiffs allege violations of a variety of provisions in the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), which they claim were caused by the presence of the Pixel tracking tool in UCSF’s patient portal and websites.
Plaintiffs also allege that UCSF violated the California Confidential Medical Information Act, through the presence and operation of the Pixel tracking tool. The lead plaintiff has specifically alleged that Meta used information about heart issues and high blood pressure for – sound familiar? – advertising purposes. She concluded after noticing that a series of ads for high blood pressure medication started appearing on her Facebook page (perhaps Meta had thought, “What Facebook user wouldn’t want to receive such ads as they view their family and friends’ posts and pictures?”
Judge Orrick, in allowing the suit to proceed, emphasized that prior court cases have recognized a right to privacy even in the absence of specific laws giving that right: “Personal medical information is understood to be among the most sensitive information that could be collected about a person,” Orrick wrote.