A proposed class action alleges Intuit has secretly disclosed the identities and video-viewing habits of TurboTax and QuickBooks subscribers to Facebook without consent.
Read all about the $141 million TurboxTax refund settlement here.
The 20-page lawsuit claims that the financial software company, which owns and operates TurboTax.Intuit.com and QuickBooks.Intuiut.com, discloses consumers’ personal information and video-viewing activity to Facebook as they watch educational videos on either site. The case argues that Intuit has violated the federal Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) by failing to obtain express written consent from its “hundreds of thousands” subscribers before disseminating their personally identifiable information to a third party.
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The suit relays that consumers must register for an Intuit account in order to use TurboTax, a tax preparation software, and QuickBooks, an accounting software package. Although Intuit’s global privacy statement admits that the company collects information about subscribers as they interact with its websites, the case claims that the company neither discloses that it shares users’ data with third parties nor asks for consent in a standalone form, as required under the VPPA.
Per the complaint, Intuit makes its alleged disclosures in a single transmission using a “snippet of programming code,” called the “Facebook tracking pixel,” installed on its web pages. The pixel tracks users as they navigate through the TurboTax and QuickBooks websites and sends their activity to Facebook, including the title of each video they viewed, the corresponding URL and the individual’s Facebook ID (FID), which is an “identifier” Facebook assigns to each user, the suit explains.
“Because the subscriber’s FID uniquely identifies an individual’s Facebook user account, Facebook—or any other ordinary person—can use it to quickly and easily locate, access, and view subscriber’s Facebook profile,” the suit states. “In other words, the Facebook Pixel allows Facebook to know what Video Media one of its users has viewed on Intuit’s digital platforms.”
According to the case, Facebook uses the data from Inuit’s websites to learn more about its users’ preferences and show them more targeted advertisements accordingly. Also, businesses that use the tracking pixel, like Intuit, have a greater incentive to advertise through Facebook or other Meta-owned platforms, like Instagram, the complaint claims. Likewise, the filing argues that Intuit benefits financially from the advertising and information services it gains from using the pixel.
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone in the United States with a digital subscription to an online website owned and/or operated by Intuit who had their personal viewing information disclosed to Facebook by the company.
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