The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission regarding its consent decree against Ceridian regarding a substantial data breach. WPF has requested that the Commission present more facts in the case to the public, and has also requested more clarity about the FTC complaint process, noting that it is not a transparent process for the public.
Consumers receive breach letters — Pharmaceutical manufacturer GSK, maker of drugs Paxil, Boniva, Advair, and many others, sent a letter to consumers who had registered on one or more of its product websites. Due to the Epsilon data breach, registrants’ names, email, and the product they registered for was breached. Information people give to a company via a pharmaceutical product web site such as this is not usually covered under HIPAA. See our Patient’s Guide to HIPAA for more on what is covered under HIPAA and what is not. WPF recommends that consumers use a “throwaway” or temporary email address if deciding to register at a Pharmaceutical product web sites.
Data Breach | HHS HITECH Breach Notification — The World Privacy Forum filed comments on the HHS data breach rulemaking and asked for substantive changes in several areas. In particular, WPF asked HHS to expressly state a requirement for a breach risk assessment in the final rule itself, and to set a requirement that the risk assessment must be conducted by an independent organization. The WPF also asked that HHS set breach risk assessment standards so that there is some uniformity and guidance as to what constitutes an appropriately rigorous risk assessment when a breach occurs. In the comments, WPF also discussed the relationship between medical identity theft and medical data breach and how this impacts patients and consumers.
Health data breach rulemaking — The Federal Trade Commission has issued its final Health Breach Notification Rule for vendors of Personal Health Records and related entities, as required under ARRA, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The initial proposed Health Breach Notification Rule was generally thoughtful and thorough. The World Privacy Forum submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule both supporting parts of it and making some suggestions for changes. The FTC incorporated several specific WPF suggestions into the final rule. In particular, the FTC incorporated the applicability of the rule to foreign entities with U.S. customers (Final Rule p. 17), and the applicability of the rule to search engines appearing on Personal Health Record web sites (Final Rule p. 34). The new rule will be published in the Federal Register shortly; until then, it is available at the FTC web site. Also available is a form that entities covered under this rule can use to report data breaches to the FTC. The Health Breach Notification Rule will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and full compliance with the rule will be required beginning 180 days after publication.
The World Privacy Forum filed extensive comments with the Federal Trade Commission today regarding its notice of proposed rulemaking for data breaches of information containing actual health care information or health care-related information. The FTC rulemaking will apply to a variety of record holders, especially vendors of personal health records. The Forum supported much of the FTC’s proposed rulemaking, finding the rulemaking generally thoughtful and careful. In some areas, the Forum urged the FTC to narrow and further define and strengthen the proposed rule. The World Privacy Forum urged the FTC to tighten language around scope, the definition of “personal health record,” law enforcement delays of consumer notification, and urged the FTC to further clarify the definition of what falls under the category of “de-identified data.” Citing the research of Dr. LaTanya Sweeney and others, the Forum urged the FTC to require commercial companies and others holding health care data that has been partially de-identified to still report those breaches to the FTC and the public, and to monitor for re-identification.