Public Policy

Public Comments: April 2009 Proposed Rule to Implement Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

The World Privacy Forum filed comments on the proposed regulations on the Genetic Information NonDiscrimination Act, or GINA. The comments request that the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission close down several potential loophole in consumer protection in the regulations. The Forum specifically asked the EEOC to consider curtailing the amount of commercially available information employers could access about employees, for example, through marketing databases. WPF also requested that those covered under GINA be required to maintain audit trails in certain circumstances, and urged that wellness programs be structured in such a way as to prevent information leakage through billing and other activities.

When opting out is hard to do: World Privacy Forum sends letter to FTC about data broker companies offering mail-based opt outs

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.

WPF Resource Page: The National Health Information Network Page

The National Health Information Network (NHIN) is an ambitious modernization plan proposed by the U.S. government. The idea is to move as an entire nation from paper medical files to electronic medical files that are shared. Specifically, the government goal is to digitize patients’ health records and medical files and create a national network to place the information in. The network, called the NHIN, would be a sophisticated network that hospitals, insurers, doctors, and others could potentially access. Such a network brings patient privacy, security, and confidentiality issues into sharp relief.

New privacy rules for schools released; World Privacy Forum comments had positive impact for student and parent privacy

School privacy | FERPA — In May 2008 the World Privacy Forum submitted detailed comments on proposed changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations (FERPA). The FERPA regulations are the rules that control how schools treat and release student information. The final FERPA regulations have now been published and reveal that the World Privacy Forum comments had a positive impact. The new regulations agreed with WPF’s comment that if a school requests a Federal tax return from a parent, that the parent has the right to redact all financial information from the form, and affirmed that the school does not have a requirement to ask for the tax form in the first place. The regulations also agreed with the WPF comment that the risk of re-identification of published student information is cumulative, and made recommendations that educational institutions take into account all releases of student information it has made, not just new releases.