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.
Data broker opt out issue — The World Privacy Forum sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to look into four companies offering online consumers the ability to opt out, then asking those consumers to use a variety of postal-mail-based methods to do so.
The Commission has laid down specific examples of what constitutes unreasonable opt- out procedures, particularly in its Affiliate Marketing Rule, which describes three distinct types of opt-out methods the Commission considers to be unreasonable. Some companies are ignoring the standards the Commission has set, and are requiring consumers whom they have notified online of an opt-out opportunity to then use paper and postal mail processes to accomplish the opt out.
CVS Caremark | FTC proposed consent agreement — The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission in response to its proposed consent agreement with the CVS Caremark pharmacy chain. The proposed agreement is in resonse to a CVS data breach. The agreement does not impose a monetary penalty on CVS, and does not provide remedies for consumers affected by the data breach.