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Costco Sued for Allegedly Sharing Members’ Health Data

Lawsuit accuses wholesale club of violating patient privacy by using Meta Pixel tracking
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
costco website
Four users of Costco’s pharmacy webpages are accusing the retailer of sharing their sensitive information.

A lawsuit filed in Washington Western District Court alleges that Costco Wholesale Corp. shared website users private communications and health information with Facebook parent Meta, without their consent. 

According to the lawsuit, the Issaquah, Wash.-based wholesale club used Meta Pixel, a third-party tracking database, in the health care portion of its website to “surreptitiously disclose millions of Americans’ private and protected communications, including their highly personal health information,” without customer consent.  

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"Costco represents to patients that its website, which includes its pharmacy webpages, is a secure platform," said the suit, which is seeking 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."

Consequently, the complaint noted, "Meta, and potentially other third parties, obtained access to and collected confidential patient data without the patients’ authorization, resulting in a significant invasion of patient privacy and disclosure of sensitive data." 

Costco has not responded to Progressive Grocer’s request for comment at press time.

The complaint lists four California residents who used Costco’s pharmacy website. After uploading private health care information, including prescriptions, treatments, health insurance coverage and patient location, some plaintiffs said that they received targeted ads relating to the private medical information disclosed to the retailer.

The defendants are requesting a trial by jury, as well as an award of damages determined at trial or by the court. 

Drug store chain Rite Aid was hit with a similar lawsuit in July that alleged the company disclosed customers’ medical information to Facebook without customers’ consent by also using the Meta Pixel tracking tool.

Costco currently operates more than 850 warehouses, including 590 in the United States and Puerto Rico and 107 in Canada. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG has also named Costco one of its Retailers of the Century.

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