Patients Sue Kaiser Permanente Over Alleged Secret Data Sharing with Tech Companies

kaiser data sharing class action lawsuit

Lawsuit Claims Healthcare Giant Violated Privacy Laws by Sharing Personal Information Without Consent

Another healthcare provider must face up to claims it illegally shared patient data with tech giants, adding to the list of lawsuits filed by consumers over the growing issue. 

In this case, a judge has given a green light for consumers to proceed with claims Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. handed over their personal information to Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and other entities without their consent, violating state wiretapping and consumer-protection laws, Bloomberg reports.

Case to proceed

Judge Edward M. Chen of the US District Court for the Northern District of California backed seven anonymous plaintiffs in their claims that Kaiser committed a breach of implied contract, negligence, and violations of consumer-protection laws across multiple states for its alleged data sharing.

However, he dismissed 15 other claims, including intrusion upon seclusion and invasion of privacy under the California Constitution, citing various legal grounds. He gave the patients until May 9 to file an amended complaint that would address issues with the claims that were dismissed.

Claims of unlawful interception

The patients, who are from Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington, accused KFHP, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals Inc., and the Permanente Medical Group Inc., of installing tracking code on Kaiser Permanente websites and mobile apps, and allowing their data to be shared with third parties without their consent. 

In the lawsuit, they call the interception “unlawful” and “tortious” and said it constitutes a criminal act. Laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act should have protected them, they argue.

Data protection priorities 

The proposed class action lawsuit is one of a string of class action lawsuits filed against healthcare providers over storage of patient data. A Bloomberg Law analysis found the monthly average of new class action lawsuits filed over health data breaches in 2023 was nearly double the rate from the previous year.  

As well as facing significant hacks, such as the ongoing Change Healthcare saga, healthcare companies are increasingly using third-party tracking software on their patient portals and apps, and allowing that data to be shared without patients knowledge. 

How can you protect your personal information?

While there are laws that protect the privacy of your health information held by your healthcare providers, as it has become easier to get and share that information online, you need to take steps to protect it. The Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology recommends:

  • Creating strong passwords
  • Be cautious sharing anything on social media
  • Research mobile apps and read terms of service
  • Install remote wiping on your mobile devices

The plaintiffs and proposed class are represented by Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check LLP, and Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello PC.

The Kaiser illegal data sharing proposed class action lawsuit is Doe, et al. v. Kaiser Permanente, et. al, Case No. 3:23-cv-02865 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.



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