The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is considering a class action lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit is in relation to analytics tools that were connected to the Planned Parenthood website that sent sensitive information back to the company.
The issue addressed in this lawsuit is regarding the collection of sensitive health information that should be protected. When the Plaintiff in the case used the Planned Parenthood website to search for an appointment for an abortion they were expecting that the the private, health information they input would remain confidential. However, it was found that as the Planned Parenthood website had Google’s Tracking Technology incorporated, the personal information was collected by Google.
This information included, search history on the website, inputs, health information and other personal information. As such the complainants state this is an interception of communications with a healthcare providers website and therefore constitutes and extreme invasion of privacy and violates federal and state statutory and common law.
Google’s Tracking Technology
This feature being active on a healthcare provider’s website allows Google access to a treasure trove of private, personal, highly sensitive and valuable information. After testing it was found that users’ information was being intercepted on the Planned Parenthood website. Google gained access to information such as what people searched for and sough treatment for.
The lawsuit states the the Plaintiff and Class Action members did not consent to the interception of their data. Information shared on a healthcare provider’s website should be protected. The case states Google have violated the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) and the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA).
The Plaintiff and Class Action members are seeking:
- Damages to compensate for the harm to their privacy interests
- A disgorgement of the profits made by Google
- Punitive damages
- Statutory damages (the greater of $5,000 per violation or three times the amount of damages sustained by Plaintiff and the Class)
- Injunctive or other equitable relief
- A civil penalty of up to $250,000 per violation of CMIA sections.
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