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posted by hubie on Wednesday August 03, @11:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-are-(again)-very-sorry-and-promise-to-do-better dept.

Facebook may have violated patient privacy laws:

Meta may have scooped up sensitive medical information without consent. The Verge reports that two proposed class-action lawsuits accuse the company and hospitals of violating HIPAA, the California Invasion of Privacy Act and other laws by collecting patient data without consent. Meta's Pixel analytic tracking tool allegedly sent health statuses, appointment details and other data to Facebook when it was present on patient portals.

In one lawsuit from last month, a patient said Pixel gathered data from the UC San Francisco and Dignity Health portals that was used to deliver ads related to heart and knee issues. The second lawsuit, from June, is broader and claims at least 664 providers shared medical info with Facebook through Pixel.

[...] They also follow a string of privacy-related US legal action against the social media giant. Meta is facing a DC Attorney General suit over Cambridge Analytica's collection of more than 70 million Americans' personal data. The company is also grappling with lawsuits over its deactivated facial recognition system, and only this year settled a 2012 class-action over the use of tracking cookies. These latest courtroom battles suggest that concerns about Meta's data gathering practices are far from over, even as the company makes its own efforts to crack down on misuse.

Previously: Facebook is Receiving Sensitive Medical Information From Hospital Websites – the Markup

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mth on Thursday August 04, @09:29AM (3 children)

    by mth (2848) on Thursday August 04, @09:29AM (#1264898) Homepage

    This is wrong on so many levels.

    My first reaction was that it's the hospital's fault for having a tracking pixel on their site in the first place. They are supposed to handle their patients' data carefully and sending any kind of patient data to Meta conflicts with that. I still think they're the main culprit here.

    Reading the articles, it seems though that Meta was aware of sensitive data being sent their way and instead of telling the hospitals to stop doing that and discarding all data sent by the hospitals, they implemented a filter which doesn't actually guarantee that no senstive data is stored but gives them a way to pretend that they care. I hope the judge will see through that.

    Then I wondered how the tracking pixel got on the hospital portals. Apparently it was part of an ad integration, but why are hospitals running ads on their patient portals? The heavy commercialization of health care looks like an underlying cause, a pre-existing condition if you will.

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  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday August 04, @02:37PM (2 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 04, @02:37PM (#1264920) Journal

    To avoid conflict of interest do not allow medical advice, doctors or drugs to be advertised on hospital portals.

    Problem fixed.

    Now ads on hospital portals will look like:

    Have you been injured in an accident? Do you need help in recovering damages you are owed by the party who caused you harm?

    You can not have fun on the weak days but you can on the weakened.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, @08:43PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 04, @08:43PM (#1264967)

      Hey, you saw the same ad I did from the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe!

      • (Score: 2) by jb on Friday August 05, @04:26AM

        by jb (338) on Friday August 05, @04:26AM (#1265037)

        Hey, you saw the same ad I did from the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe!

        Must have had a change of partners recently then. I seem to recall the firm as Billem, Cheatham & Lye.