A proposed class action accuses AltaMed Health Services Corporation of sharing the private health data of website visitors with third parties, including Facebook, without consent.
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The 88-page lawsuit says the healthcare system, which offers medical services at numerous locations across Los Angeles, has “intentionally” embedded invisible web-tracking tools into its website and patient portal. According to the suit, the technology intercepts and transmits visitors’ personal information to unauthorized third parties, which then use it for targeted advertising purposes.
The case explains that the tracking tools—which include Facebook’s Meta pixel and Conversions Application Programming Interface (API)—are designed to capture a visitor’s every interaction with a website in real time. By knowingly using such back-end technologies on AltaMed.org and the patient portal found at MyAltaMed.net without obtaining permission from users, the corporation has violated patients’ privacy rights and breached state and federal law, the complaint claims.
Per the filing, patients can use the website to access the healthcare company’s patient portal, research treatments, find doctors, communicate with providers and more. However, unbeknownst to website visitors, AltaMed discloses to third parties its patients’ “extremely sensitive” medical data, including details about their health conditions, diagnoses, procedures, treatments sought and the location and specialty of their doctors, the lawsuit alleges.
In addition, the suit contends that the defendant unlawfully shares other personally identifying information, such as a visitor’s IP address, buttons clicked, pages accessed, any information entered into online forms and their Facebook ID—an identifier uniquely linked to an individual’s Facebook account.
This combination of data can be used to personally identify patients in connection with their communications and activities on AltaMed’s website, the case relays.
As the complaint tells it, visitors to AltaMed.org reasonably believed that their private information would be safeguarded by the healthcare company rather than intentionally handed over to unauthorized third parties.
“In browsing [AltaMed’s] Web Properties—be it to make an appointment, locate a doctor with a specific specialty, find sensitive information about their diagnosis, or investigate treatment for their diagnosis—[the plaintiffs] and Class Members did not expect that every search (including exact words and phrases they typed into [the defendant’s] website search bars), page visits, or even their access/interactions on [the company’s] online portals would be intercepted, captured, or otherwise shared with Facebook in order to target [the plaintiffs] and Class Members with advertisements, in conscious disregard of their privacy rights,” the filing states.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the United States whose private information was disclosed to a third party without authorization through the Meta pixel on AltaMed.org and MyAltaMed.net.
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