Costco facing lawsuit over sharing customer data with Facebook’s owner
Oct 10, 2023, 12:55 PM
(Photo: David Zalubowski, AP)
Costco is facing a class action lawsuit over claims it shared members’ personal data.
The lawsuit filed Friday claims the Issaquah-based chain used online tracking technologies to provide personal and health information to third parties.
“Costco represents to patients that its website, which includes its pharmacy webpages, is a secure platform,” said the suit, which is seeking a class-action status. “Yet, Costco fails to disclose or omits the fact that it shares patient online activities and personal health information with Meta via Pixel.”
The lawsuit claims that Costco put the tracker on its website, and when users went to its pharmacy pages that information was collected and shared, without their knowledge, with Meta, the owner of Facebook. In many cases, such actions included sensitive personal information.
The information gathered through Pixel is routinely used to “build profiles for the purpose of future targeting and marketing,” the suit states.
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Costco’s executive vice president of administration Patrick Callans said in an email to The Seattle Times the company won’t comment on pending litigation. The retailer has not filed a response in court.
The lawsuit reads:
Costco’s unlawful data-sharing practices of using online third-party tracking technologies, such as Meta Platforms, Inc.’s Pixel Code to surreptitiously disclose millions of Americans’ private and protected communications, including their highly personal health information, to third parties, all without consumers’ knowledge or consent. By purposely embedding and deploying Pixel on Costco’s Website, www.costco.com, Costco engages in the unauthorized disclosure of its Pharmacy patients’ highly sensitive Personal Health Information and Personally Identifiable Information to third parties, including Meta Platforms, Inc. Such conduct blatantly violates state and federal law.
Meta, which is not named as a defendant in this lawsuit, said in a statement its system can filter out sensitive data.
“Advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our business tools,” Meta said Monday. “Doing so is against our policies and we educate advertisers on properly setting up business tools to prevent this from occurring.” Costco is considered a Meta advertiser.
According to the lawsuit, Costco also violated users’ privacy because it let Meta collect communications related to health care from its website.
Contributing: KIRO 7