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UC San Diego Health Meta Pixel Data Tracking Investigation

The Lyon Firm is actively involved in data privacy and data theft cases and is currently investigating the UC San Diego Health Meta Pixel tracking incident on behalf of victims and plaintiffs in California and nationwide.

University of California San Diego Health has begun notifying patients that their data was shared with third parties due to its vendor placing analytics tools on its websites. UCSD Health joins a long list of providers to report a data privacy breach due to the use of Pixel-tracking tech and marketing analytics tools.

According to recent privacy investigations, several healthcare organizations have been have been sending patient information to Facebook through a tool called Meta Pixel, raising several privacy violation concerns. The Lyon Firm is investigating allegations for multiple health systems, including UC San Diego Health.

Hundreds of health entities in the US have allegedly added third-party tracking code to its websites “to improve access to information about critical patient care services and manage key functionalities of our patient-facing websites.”

The unauthorized tracking of patient data could be a privacy violation. By tracking user activity, the code also transmits data to Meta/Facebook without patient consent, which potentially violates data privacy law.

The types of UC San Diego Health patient information transmitted to Meta depends on patients’ interactions on the website, their use of forms, and the data entered when scheduling appointments.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated data breach lawyer and Privacy Attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in class action security breach lawsuits.

Can You Sue following the UC San Diego Health Privacy Breach?

Entities that collect and store data have a duty to protect personal information to the best of their ability. When they are negligent, and a data privacy violation incident occurs, they may be liable for the following:

  • Improperly monitoring data security systems for existing intrusions
  • Not ensuring that vendors with access to computer systems and data employ reasonable security procedures
  • Improperly training employees in handling emails containing personal data and maintain adequate email security practices
  • Failure to implement technical policies and procedures to allow electronic data access only to individuals or software programs granted access rights
  • Failure to implement procedures to review records of information system activity regularly, such as audit logs, access reports and security incident tracking reports
  • Improperly protecting against reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of stored data

An experienced class action privacy attorney can determine if you are eligible to file a data breach lawsuit or join a class of plaintiffs. Lawyers investigating the matter can assist in determining the following:

  • Did UC San Diego Health fail to adopt security safeguards that would have prevented a breach?
  • Did UC San Diego Health notify customers as soon as it learned of the incident?
  • Did UCSD Health provide a complete list of all individuals impacted?
  • Did UCSD provide security in line with industry standards?

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule calls for data breach notifications to be issued to the Secretary of the Health and Human Services “without unnecessary delay.” No later than 60 days after the date of discovery of a data breach, healthcare entities have a duty to alert the government and begin preparing to alert the public.

Consumer privacy attorneys say there has been a trend for HIPAA-regulated entities to wait as long as possible before alerting affected individuals, a practice that place consumers at a higher risk of identity theft and fraud.

In many cases, data breach notifications have been sent out many months after a security breach incident was detected. There may be valid reasons for a delay in reporting, though in some cases this institutes a severe disservice to those impacted by a data theft event.

Delays to individual data theft notifications could mean individuals’ Personal Health Information (PHI) has been in the hands of criminals for many months before they are even aware about the data theft.

Privacy lawyers claim promptly sending out individual data breach notification letters and being transparent about the fraud risk for individuals is not only ethical, but the only way to avoid stiff penalties.

The HHS has made it clear that if healthcare entities do not comply with the 60 day rule from the date of data breach discovery, they may be liable for notification violations.

Current and former UC San Diego Health patients:

We would like to speak with you about your privacy rights and potential legal remedies in response to this data security incident. Please fill out the contact form, below, or contact us by phone.

If you were impacted by a data breach, you may consider taking the following steps to protect your personal information:

  • Review the breach notice you received and retain a copy
  • Enroll in any free credit monitoring service provided by the breached company
  • Change your passwords and security questions for related online accounts
  • Review account statements and credit reports for signs of fraud or identity theft
  • Contact a credit bureau to request a temporary fraud alert

What Should You Do Following the UCSD Privacy Breach?

Regardless of the reason for a security breach, victims have the right to file a claim against a company for failing to protect their information. All companies and organizations must exercise reasonable care in protecting patient information, and if they do not, they can be held liable for the damages that result, including identity theft.

Security breach plaintiffs and privacy attorneys representing plaintiffs have been able to settle multi-million dollar recoveries. If you or a loved one has received notice of a data breach affecting you, or suspect signs of identity theft, contact a data theft lawyer for a free consultation.

Individuals can be ruined financially and emotionally, and deserve proper online security measures. But many companies and hospitals violate privacy laws and consumer rights, and thus face class action lawsuits.

After a data breach turns your life upside down, remember that you are not the only victim. There are millions of Americans who suffer from data privacy events every year, and in turn, seek legal action for compensation and to hold companies accountable for negligent data privacy policy.

What is the Meta Pixel Tool?

Meta’s data trackers are embedded in many of the websites we all use. The Meta Pixel tool is a piece of JavaScript code that websites can use to track the movement of users across the site. The Meta Pixel tool records information liked user IP addresses and the actions of users.

On a hospital website, for example, Meta Pixel can record appointment information and any information selected from menus. The collected information and tracking data is then sent to Meta to be processed, stored, and used for targeted advertising.

Are there Hospital Data Privacy Laws?

Yes, under the HIPAA, any hospital data transfer should require consent from patients. Lawyers allege there is no evidence that consent had been obtained from patients in some prior hospital data privacy Meta Pixel complaints.

Meta (Facebook) is not hemmed in by HIPAA, but the hospitals and health systems that use Meta Pixel on their websites have been named as defendants in class actions.

The terms and conditions of Meta state that if sensitive data is transferred using Meta Pixel, the company will prevent that data from being used to serve targeted ads, but it is unclear if that has rung true.

Meta Pixel Hospital Data Class Action Lawsuits

Data Privacy lawsuits have been filed against Meta for allegedly collecting patient data from hospital websites through the Meta Pixel tool, violating the privacy of millions of patients.

The lawsuits allege Meta has violated California’s Unfair Competition Law and the Invasion of Privacy Act. The complaint reads: “Despite knowingly receiving health-related information from medical providers, Facebook has not taken any action to enforce or validate its requirement that medical providers obtain adequate consent from patients before providing patient data to Facebook.”

The lawsuits will have to be certified as class actions by a judge, and  could potentially bring damages on behalf of all Facebook users whose medical providers employed the Meta Pixel.

According to privacy advocates, Meta and other companies have tracking systems designed to collect user data from millions of sites and turn it into advertising dollars. This is not speculation, it is their very business model.

But, when businesses and hospitals choose to put Meta Pixel and other trackers on their websites and apps, they are also liable for the harm that could cause.

Why would a hospital agree to this? Some hospitals have said they did not know about the data collection. But regardless, they have a duty to understand their own systems and potential privacy violations.

If you want more information on current data privacy litigation and how to file a data theft class action lawsuit, contact The Lyon Firm for a free and confidential UCSD Health data privacy case review.