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Facebook In US Crosshairs For Allegedly Accessing Medical Data

 |  June 20, 2022

Meta is facing a federal lawsuit that says private medical data is being secretly shared with Facebook when patients access their healthcare providers’ web portals.

Bloomberg reported Friday (June 17) that the suit seeks class-action status and says the Facebook Pixel tracking tool redirects patient communications and other “secure” information without permission.

The suit lists its plaintiff as John Doe and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Bloomberg, citing a nonprofit news organization The Markup, reported at least 33 hospitals use the Facebook tracking tool, which could violate federal health information privacy laws.

Meta was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon.

The company is also facing a $3.2 billion fine in the United Kingdom stemming from allegations that it exploited data and abused its market dominance.

In January, a senior adviser to the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Liza Lovdahl Gormsen, said she was bringing the class-action case on behalf of British Facebook users who used the platform between 2015 and 2019.

The suit claimed Facebook earned billions of pounds through unfair terms and conditions, which forced users to give up valuable personal data to access the popular social network.

Facebook responded at the time by saying people who used its services did so because it was valuable for them, and “they have meaningful control of what information they share on Meta’s platforms and who with.”

But Gormsen argued there is a “dark side” to Facebook in that it allegedly abused its market dominance and placed unfair terms and conditions on users by collecting data through things like Pixel. This allowed it to build an “all-seeing picture” of internet usage, giving it detailed profiles of users.

This week also saw France’s antitrust watchdog approve commitments made by Meta regarding the French online advertising sector. The company has agreed to give access to its advertising inventories and campaign data over a five-year period.