The case, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, claims that the U of L Health website has code called the Meta Pixel implanted on it and that this code automatically sends information to Facebook (formerly known as Meta).
This information allegedly includes prescription medication histories and diagnoses.
The complaint claims that U of L Health, affiliated with the University of Louisville in Kentucky, installed the Meta Pixel on its patient portal and website so that the firm could benefit from the data it receives and use that data to target patients with adverts.
The lawsuit states that in a notice issued in December 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expressed concern that the practice would violate HIPAA, the federal statute controlling patient privacy.
Claims that U of L Health’s assertion that it transmits Facebook solely anonymous and aggregate data is at odds with Meta Pixel’s stated mission, which is “to collect individuals’ information for ad targeting reasons,” are made in the complaint filed on behalf of Rhonda Blandford of Louisville.
U of L Health spokesperson David McArthur declined to comment on the pending litigation, but he did say that Meta Pixel cannot access patients’ private health data through the hospital’s website.
Claims of invasion of privacy, contract breach, unjust enrichment, and KCPRA violation are also included in the action. The complaint claims that there are enough people who could file claims and would all benefit from a class action certification because of the similarity of their injuries.
It’s not only U of L Health that’s using the Meta Pixel. Markup, a tech journal, released a study in June 2017 claiming that 33 of the country’s top 100 hospitals were using the Meta Pixel on their websites.
There were several notable names among them, such as Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, and New York Presbyterian Hospital. A patient’s private information is transferred to Meta when they make an appointment through the hospital’s website, as described in the narrative.