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In the Courts: B.C. resident’s proposed class-action targets Home Depot for sharing data with Facebook

Recent investigation found Home Depot didn’t obtain consent before sharing purchase and email data
B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver | Rob Kruyt, BIV

A proposed class action lawsuit claims Home Depot of Canada Inc. violated customers’ privacy by sharing personal information with tech giant Meta Platforms Inc.

A notice of civil claim seeking certification as a class action was filed with the B.C. Supreme Court on Feb. 27, naming B.C. resident Lasse Hvitved as its lead plaintiff against Home Depot, whom he bought a shower head from last year.

According to the legal filings, Hvitved bought the shower head at a Vancouver Home Depot and opted to receive an electronic receipt by email.

Hvitved has had a Facebook account since at least 2018 when, according to the notice of civil claim, Home Depot began collecting customers’ personal information at store checkouts to issue electronic receipts.

“What customers did not know was that their email address and other information about their purchase was shared with Meta, the company behind the Facebook social network,” stated the legal filings.

The lawsuit claims Home Depot shared the personal information with Meta to determine how effective its online advertising was. 

Hvitved claimed this was done through Facebook’s “offline conversions” tool, through which Home Depot provided Meta email addresses and information about their purchases, including the date and time, the amount spent and the type of items bought.

The lawsuit claimed customers were not asked for consent to share that information and it was done without any notice to customers.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of an investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), which released its report on Jan. 26.

While Home Depot reportedly denied sharing information with Facebook in the past, it confirmed to the OPC that shared that data with the company.

The OPC found that Home Depot did not ensure valid consent to do so.

“Even though our use of a Meta analytics tool involved the use of only non-sensitive information i.e., the department in which a purchase was made, as a precaution, we stopped using the tool once the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada expressed concerns about it in October 2022,” a spokesperson for Home Depot Canada told Global News in a January statement.

“We value and respect the privacy of our customers and are committed to the responsible collection and use of information. We’ll continue to work closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.”

Home Depot has not filed a response to the proposed class-action lawsuit as of press time.