Reinstate e-health privacy

Most people believe the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects the privacy of health information.

Unfortunately, that is a myth. Just as the P in HIPAA does not stand for privacy, the HIPAA Privacy Rule actually eliminates privacy protection in a way that prevents violations from being detected, monitored or audited.

Before the HIPAA Privacy Rule was adopted in 2002, a long-established legal principle held that individuals had the right to control all access to their health records. As we make the transition to electronic health records, we need to reinstate that important legal right.

Appeals court backs N.H. law on prescription data

A federal appeals court has upheld a New Hampshire law that aims to block the use of data on physicians’ and other clinicians’ prescribing patterns for drug-marketing purposes.
The decision by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which overturns a trial court ruling, also will establish a legal precedent in a lawsuit by data miners and the pharmaceutical industry they work for in Maine. There a similar law was overturned by a federal court.
It will not have as strong an influence on a third such law in Vermont, which also is tied up in federal court there, because it is in a different federal circuit, according to Democratic Maine State Rep. Sharon Treat, who serves as executive director of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, a nonpartisan organization of state legislators looking to lower prescription drug prices.

NH prescription privacy law upheld

New Hampshire’s 1st-in-nation law making docs’ prescriptions records confidential is upheld
NEW YORK (Associated Press) – A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation law making doctors’ prescription writing habits confidential.
The ruling Tuesday by the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston overturns one last year in New Hampshire saying the law unconstitutionally infringed on free speech.
The appeals court said the law, intended to thwart hard-sell tactics by drug companies to doctors, is a valid step to promote the delivery of cost-effective health care.

Appeals Court Reverses Decision on Prescription Privacy

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation law that bars companies from selling the prescriptions doctors write.

Last year a lower court had ruled the measure was unconstitutional.

New Hampshire Public Radio’s Dan Gorenstein reports proponents believe the law will drive down healthcare costs and preserve the privacy of the patient-physician relationship.

When Cindy Rosenwald heard the news that the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in the state’s favor, she started jumping up and down.

TAPE: I’m really thrilled about the decision…I think it’s, I think it’s great.

Rosenwald sponsored the first-in-the-nation legislation to restrict pharmaceutical companies ability to sell their drugs.

Google’s New Flu Tracking Tool Raises Concerns About Internet Users’ Privacy, Experts Say

In an iHealthBeat Special Report by Deirdre Kennedy, patient privacy advocates express concerns about Google’s new online flu tracking tool.
The tool, called Flu Trends, tracks search terms entered by Internet users to help U.S. public health officials identify more quickly potential regional outbreaks. Google says it has found a close relationship between the number of people who search for flu-related topics online and how many people actually have the flu.
However, privacy advocates argue that Internet user information stored by Google and other search engines could prejudice insurers, employers, lenders or others who might gain access to it.
The Special Report includes comments from:
Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center;
Deborah Peel, founder of Patient Privacy Rights; and
Lisa Winston, chief epidemiologist at the University of California-San Francisco (Kennedy, iHealthBeat, 11/19).

Prescription privacy law upheld

A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation law making doctors’ prescription writing habits confidential.

The ruling Tuesday by the 1st U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston overturns one last year in New Hampshire saying the law unconstitutionally infringed on free speech.

The appeals court said the law, intended to thwart hard-sell tactics by drug companies to doctors, is a valid step to promote the delivery of cost-effective health care.

“Even if the Prescription Information Law amounts to a regulation of protected speech — a proposition with which we disagree —it passes constitutional muster,” the court said.

Federal Court Upholds Drug Privacy Law

A federal appeals court in Boston on Tuesday dealt a setback to the pharmaceutical industry and companies that collect prescription data for use in drug marketing.

Ruling in support of a New Hampshire law, the court upheld the right of states to prohibit the sale of doctor-specific prescription drug data that is widely used in pharmaceutical marketing.

The case is a defeat for two large data-mining companies, IMS Health and Verispan. They sued in 2006 to block implementation of the New Hampshire law, which prohibited the sale of computerized data showing which doctors were prescribing what drugs.

A New Voice in Online Privacy: Group Wants Tighter Rules for Collecting, Using Consumer Data

A group of privacy scholars, lawyers and corporate officials are launching an advocacy group today designed to help shape standards around how companies collect, store and use consumer data for business and advertising.

The group, the Future of Privacy Forum, will be led by Jules Polonetsky, who until this month was in charge of AOL‘s privacy policy, and Chris Wolf, a privacy lawyer for law firm Proskauer Rose. They say the organization, which is sponsored by AT&T, aims to develop ways to give consumers more control over how personal information is used for behavioral-targeted advertising.

Internet companies have come under fire for tracking consumers’ online habits in order to tailor ads relevant to their interests. Lawmakers have held several hearings this year to examine online privacy protections.

When you sneeze, does Google tell the Feds?

Anonymization’ – a word with no meaning

When unveiling its search-data-driven Flu Trends modeler earlier this week, Google insisted it could never be used to identify the web habits of individual people. Flu Trends, the company said, uses nothing but “anonymized” data.

Of course, no one knows what that means.

Following the release of the new disease tracker, two concerned watchdogs – the tech-minded Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the medical-minded Patient Privacy Rights – tossed a letter at Google CEO Eric Schmidt, asking for an explanation. “Would you agree to publish the technique that Google has adopted to protect the privacy of search queries for Google Flu Trends?” the letter asked. “As you know, there is considerable debate as to what constitutes ‘anonymized’ data.”

Online Age Verification for Children Brings Privacy Worries

WHEN it comes to protecting children on the Internet and keeping them safe from predators, law enforcement officials have vocally advocated one approach in particular. They want popular sites, like the social network MySpace, to confirm the identities and ages of minors and then allow the young Web surfers to talk only with other children, or with adults approved by parents.
But performing so-called age verification for children is fraught with challenges. The kinds of publicly available data that Web companies use to confirm the identities of adults, like their credit card or Social Security numbers, are either not available for minors or are restricted by federal privacy laws.
Nevertheless, over the last year, at least two dozen companies have sprung up with systems they claim will solve the problem. Surprisingly, their work is proving controversial and even downright unpopular among the very people who spend their days worrying about the well-being of children on the Web.