Internet privacy — The World Privacy Forum announced today that it would be filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the posting by AOL of a portion of its users’ search data on the Internet. While the data was not expressly identified by name, the search queries themselves included in some cases personally identifiable information such as individuals’ names, Social Security Numbers, and myriad other personal information. The World Privacy Forum urges consumers to take precautions when using search engines.
Genetic privacy — The collection of DNA material from 500,000 to 1,000,000 or more individuals as part of a large U.S. medical research project raises many challenging ethical, legal, and privacy issues. An advisory committee reporting to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ( the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society) has published a detailed analysis of the issues such a project and its associated databases and biobanks would raise in a draft report. The committee’s final report and policy recommendations will be submitted to the Secretary of HHS. The World Privacy Forum has submitted public comments on the draft; the comments include key policy recommendations.
Medical privacy | HIPAA — Five groups joined the World Privacy Forum in asking for changes to be made to a proposed rule on how medical healthcare claims attachments are handled electronically. The World Privacy Forum and the EFF, EPIC, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Activism and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) asked that physicians be given more control over what parts of health records they send electronically to insurance companies, that psychotherapy notes not be included when sending health records for insurance payment, and that the HIPAA Privacy Rule be rigorously applied to scanned health records.
Domestic surveillance — The World Privacy Forum joined a coalition of 41 civil liberties, privacy, and trans-political organizations in a letter requesting a thorough and comprehensive inquiry by the Committee on the Judiciary into domestic surveillance program(s).
Medical privacy — The World Privacy Forum testified before the National Committee on Vital Health Statistics in August regarding the importance of patient choice in the area of Electronic Health Records. The testimony stressed the importance of building security, patient privacy, and choice into EHRs and any form of the proposed National Health Information Network (NHIN).