In a recent legal development, wholesale giant Costco finds itself embroiled in a lawsuit over accusations of unauthorized sharing of sensitive customer information with Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of social media giant Facebook. The lawsuit, filed in a Seattle federal court, alleges that Costco utilized Meta's analytical tool, Meta Pixel, on its website, potentially compromising the privacy of its customers.
According to the New York Post, Meta Pixel, a tool for tracking website visitors and their activities, reportedly gave Meta access to a wide range of personal data, including potentially sensitive health information of users of Costco's online pharmacy services. This revelation has sparked concerns regarding user privacy and data security, particularly for individuals who rely on Costco's online pharmacy services.
The four California residents who are the plaintiffs in this case assert that Costco assured them of the confidentiality and security of their data on its platform. However, the lawsuit contends that the company failed to disclose its practice of sharing online activities and health information with Meta through Pixel. This alleged omission implies a violation of privacy and a breach of Washington State's privacy laws, which prohibit the unauthorized sharing of user data, according to the NY Post.
While not named as a defendant, Meta clarified its stance, emphasizing that its policies explicitly prohibit advertisers from transmitting sensitive information about individuals through its business tools. The company maintains that it educates advertisers on the proper setup of business tools to prevent such incidents and underscores that its system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data, as reported by the NY Post.
The plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury, financial damages, and a formal declaration of Costco's alleged unlawful conduct. This legal action follows a sizable fine of $1.3 billion for privacy violations imposed on Meta by the Irish Data Protection Commission in 2023.
As of the latest update, Costco shares traded slightly higher at $564.26, reflecting a 0.39% increase. It remains to be seen how this legal battle will unfold and what implications it may have for both Costco and Meta Platforms, Inc.