Privacy

Google Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Health Data Misuse

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Google Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Health Data Misuse

It's a digital era where data is the new oil. But what happens when this data involves your private health information? A class-action lawsuit alleges that Google, the tech giant, has been unlawfully tracking, collecting, and monetizing Americans' private health information. The plaintiffs claim that Google's actions have violated federal and state laws designed to protect the privacy of health information.

According to the lawsuit, Google has deployed its Source Code on approximately 94% of Health Care Provider web properties across the United States. This Source Code, used in Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Display Ads, allegedly tracks and collects patients' health information without their knowledge or consent. This information includes an individual's status as a patient, unique patient identifiers, specific actions taken by patients on their Health Care Provider web properties, and content of communications exchanged with Health Care Providers.

"Google Analytics deposits cookies on patients' devices, disguising them as first-party cookies belonging to the Health Care Provider, and tracks patients' interactions and communications," the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit further claims that Google's Source Code intercepts and redirects patients' identifiers, request URLs, query string parameters, and other information to Google Analytics.

Google's alleged actions are said to violate several laws. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of individuals' health information. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) prohibits the interception, acquisition, and use of the content of electronic communications without lawful consent. The lawsuit also cites violations of California laws, including the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

"Google's acquisition and use of Health Information without proper consent violates the CCPA," the plaintiffs argue. In addition to these legal violations, the lawsuit alleges that Google's actions breach its own terms of service and privacy policy.

The lawsuit also presents a detailed account of how Google allegedly tracks and collects health information. The plaintiffs claim that Google uses unique identifiers, cookies, and device attributes to track and associate health information with individual patients. It is alleged that Google integrates its advertising systems and products to share data and connect health information across different platforms. The lawsuit also alleges that Google enables remarketing campaigns based on patient actions and communications with Health Care Providers.

"Google's conduct of intercepting, acquiring, and using patients' health information without their consent violates federal and state laws, including HIPAA and the CCPA," the lawsuit alleges. The plaintiffs argue that patients have a reasonable expectation of privacy over their health information under common law.

It is also alleged that Google's actions have eroded the confidentiality of the patient-provider relationship. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. The plaintiffs demand a trial by jury.

Case Facts

  • Status:
    Lawsuit Filed
  • Case Number:
    5:23-cv-02431
  • Filing Date:
    May 17, 2023
  • Jurisdiction:
    U.S. District Courts
  • State:
    California
  • Court:
    California Northern District
  • Plaintiff:
    John Doe; Jane Doe
  • Defendant:
    Google LLC
  • Plaintiff Firm:
    Kiesel Law LLP; Simmons Hanly Conroy
  • Defendant Firm:
  • Claims Administrator:
Contributors
Kevin Salzman, Esq.
Kevin Salzman, Esq.
Reporter and Licensed Attorney
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