A proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Sharp Healthcare secretly transmits Sharp.com visitors’ personal data to Meta Platforms (Facebook) without consent.
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The 18-page lawsuit says that the regional healthcare group, which operates seven hospitals, three medical groups and various other healthcare centers in Southern California, was identified in June 2022 by nonprofit news publication The Markup as one of 33 top hospitals found to utilize a tracking code on its website to collect and send patients’ personal and private information to Facebook.
Sharp Healthcare’s website allows patients to book appointments, make payments, search for and chat with physicians, and perform “other private and confidential medical activities which users would not want carelessly disclosed to a third party,” the suit charges.
According to the case, Sharp.com makes use of a Meta pixel, a piece of code that can be embedded into a website in order to allow Facebook to capture visitors’ data and interactions on the page for advertising purposes. Per the filing, the Meta pixel can collect and transmit every movement a user makes on a website, including data such as pages and content viewed, information entered onto the page, IP addresses, browser specifics, buttons clicked, payment information, appointment details and any searched content.
The complaint argues that by using a Meta tracking pixel, Sharp Healthcare has unlawfully shared its patients’ confidential information with Facebook without their knowledge or consent.
The plaintiff, a San Diego resident, has visited Sharp.com numerous times to pay bills, book appointments, search for specialists and send confidential messages to providers, the suit says.
As the case tells it, after receiving a notice from Sharp Healthcare about a January 2023 data breach and conducting further research, the plaintiff discovered The Markup’s report and was “dismayed” to learn that his personal data may have been transmitted to Facebook without his consent.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone residing in California whose personal information was collected through the use of a Meta pixel installed on any web page owned and/or operated by Sharp Healthcare within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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