Canadian class action alleges Flo app shared sensitive data with Facebook

0 0

A lawsuit accusing fertility and period tracking app Flo Health of collecting and sharing the private data of its users has been approved to move forward as a Canadian class action.

The class action certification was greenlit by a BC Supreme Court judge on Thursday, according to judgement documents.

The claim alleged that the Flo app collected, tracked, and sold “sensitive and valuable personal information of its customers to third parties, such as Google and Facebook, without their consent.”

This went against the wording of Flo’s privacy policies and contractual terms.

“Flo represented to its customers that their personal reproductive health information would not be used or disclosed, but subsequently sold it without their consent,” noted a case overview published by Foreman & Company, an Ontario-based law firm that is part of the national consortium of firms involved in the class action.

It added that Flo’s actions have resulted in “real and substantial harm” to users who had their information sold.

The Canadian lawsuit comes after a 2019 Wall Street Journal article which detailed how Flo provided web companies with their users’ data without their knowledge.

In response to the article, the US Federal Trades Commission launched an investigation into Flo.

“In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Flo promised to keep users’ health data private and only use it to provide the app’s services to users,” reads the court documents.

In 2021, the FTC and Flo agreed on a settlement. Flo was required to give notice to its users about the information sharing and was ordered to instruct any third parties that received health information from Flo to destroy all such information.

A notice Flo sent to users following its settlement with the FTC. (Flo/ Screenshot)

Flo said the agreement with the FTC was not an admission of wrongdoing but rather “a settlement to avoid the time and expense of litigation.”

Jaime Cah Kate Lam was named as the main plaintiff in the BC claim. In a 2022 affidavit, Lam said she first downloaded the app in 2016 and said she had a “specific memory of looking at their privacy policy and feeling reassured that [her] information would remain private when [she] used the app.”

Lam said she entered personal information into the app and felt “deeply offended” after learning about Flo sharing data with third parties.

“I was shocked to learn that Flo Health had disclosed my personal information to Facebook and others, despite my clear understanding when I downloaded the Flo App that my information would be kept private,” she stated.

Richard Parsons, a Vancouver-based lawyer who is co-counsel on the case, noted any user who was affected is automatically part of the class action.

“What the judge has held here is… that the evidence that’s been pled is proven that there is a viable cause of action at law, and there are issues that are common to the class members that — if determined — could resolve all the issues for the class members or some of the issues for the class members,” he explained in an interview with Daily Hive.

According to the BC Supreme Court ruling, the class action will include all Canadian residents who used the app between June 1, 2016, to February 23, 2019, excluding those in Quebec.

Daily Hive has reached out to Flo for further comment and will update this story should the company respond.

You may also like...