Eye Spy: A Look into the Visionworks Data Privacy Class Action Lawsuit

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Visionworks Faces A Class Action Lawsuit For Allegedly Tracking And Sharing Consumers’ Personal Health Information Without Consent

In the digital age, the line between convenience and privacy often blurs, leaving many to wonder, "Are we paying for convenience with our privacy?" This question becomes especially poignant in the case of Visionworks, a San Antonio-based optical chain, now under legal scrutiny for allegedly tracking and sharing consumers' personal health information without a wink of consent.

A privacy breach or a misunderstanding?

Visionworks.com appears as a convenient portal for shoppers to buy both prescription and non-prescription eyeglasses, set up eye exam appointments, and read up on eye health. But here's where it gets interesting: without the users' knowledge, Visionworks might have overstepped, using tracking tools to send details of user activities directly to Meta, the powerhouse behind Facebook.

Picture this: you're online, picking out a new pair of frames, and the next thing you know, your shopping preferences might just be on the virtual auction block. According to the complaint, Visionworks may have let slip confidential health information about its patrons. We're talking about the specifics of their searches, the products they perused or popped into their carts, their appointment schedules, and even the keywords they typed into the search bar.

“Descriptions and summaries of medical products, scheduled medical appointments, and queries relating to such are private information, indicating the health status and concerns of users,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are calling this "highly offensive behavior" and have taken their grievances to federal court, seeking over $5 million in damages.

Pixels and privacy

Think of pixels used by websites, like the Meta pixel and Facebook pixel, as tiny digital eyes following everything you do online. In this lawsuit, the issue is that Visionworks is said to have used these digital eyes to watch what users do on their site and then shared those details with Meta (the company that owns Facebook) to make more money through ads, all without asking users first.

The complaint lays it out like this: “Receiving this information enables Facebook and the web developers to build valuable personal profiles for users, enhancing marketing effectiveness and increasing the chance of converting users into paying customers.”

The lawsuit against Visionworks revolves around consent, or the apparent lack thereof, to share tracked queries with Meta. It's a tale as old as time, or at least as old as digital marketing: to "drive more sales" through targeted advertising, sometimes at the expense of user privacy.

What's more, the lawsuit points out that what Visionworks did might have violated state and federal wiretapping laws. And since Visionworks deals with health information, they're supposed to protect your information because of HIPAA.

A precedent in privacy concerns

This isn't an isolated case. Retailer Costco, publisher Healthline Media, and healthcare provider Novant Health, among others, have found themselves in similar legal battles over the use of tracking technologies.

The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a class of U.S. consumers who have had their online searches and activities on Visionworks.com intercepted, recorded, and disseminated via tracking tools.

The plaintiffs are represented by Patrick Yarborough and Jeffrey Lucas Ott of Foster Yarborough PLLC, and Mark S. Reich, Courtney Maccarone, and Gary I. Ishimoto of Levi & Korsinsky, LLP.

The Visionworks data privacy class action lawsuit is Sharma et al. v. Visionworks of America, Inc., Case No. 5:24-cv-00206, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

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