Meta Sued Over Data Collection From Tax Preparation Sites

Meta Platforms was hit this week with a new privacy lawsuit for allegedly collecting taxpayers' information from online tax-filing services.

The complaint, brought in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Meta's tracking code, the Meta Pixel, resided on tax-filing websites, and transmitted filers' personal information to the social networking service.

“Several of the nation’s largest online tax-preparation services installed the Pixel on their websites and thereby transmitted 'tax return information' to Meta, including filers’ names, income, filing status, refund amounts, names of dependents, and dependents’ college scholarship amounts,” a California resident and Georgia resident allege in their class-action complaint, which was filed anonymously.

The duo, who allege they used H&R Block's online service to file taxes, claim that Meta broke its contract with users by collecting confidential tax information from sources that lacked the right to disclose the data.

The filers point to the following language in Facebook's data policy: “Partners receive your data when you visit or use their services or through third parties they work with. We require each of these partners to have lawful rights to collect, use and share your data before providing any data to us.”

Facebook allegedly violated that provision “by not requiring its partners that are tax preparation service providers to obtain valid user consent before sharing user data through the Pixel,” they allege. H&R Block is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also claims Meta violated various federal and state laws.

Meta is facing a similar lawsuit over allegations that its tracking code collects sensitive health data from hospital websites.

The company has said its policies prohibit advertisers from sending sensitive information through Meta's business tools, and that its system “is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data it is able to detect.”

The new suit comes just two days after The Markup reported that Meta's tracking code, the Meta Pixel, was on several popular tax services' sites, including H&R Block, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer. After The Markup contacted some of the companies, they reportedly revised their practices: TaxAct stopped sending financial information to Meta, while TaxSlayer removed the pixel from their filing sites.

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