Tuesday, June 14, 2005

How well do you know the receptionist?

Information protection is becoming an increasing issue in our database-driven society. One attempt to protect personal information in the medical realm was the introduction of HIPAA laws a couple of years ago, which threatens companies with both civil and criminal penalties for failure to respect data use and security requirements. However, it appears that the Justice Department has been undermining this measure, and may have gutted it entirely by claiming that employees of these companies may not be covered by the HIPAA statute (leaving whom, exactly?).
To the extent that big health is following the HIPAA law -- and to a large extent, they're waiting to see how it's enforced -- they are doing so because of the criminal penalties. They know that the civil penalties aren't that large, and are a cost of doing business. But the criminal penalties were real. Now that they're gone, the pressure on big health to protect patient privacy is greatly diminished.
This is quite clearly a bowing to the pressure of big corporate interests. However, with patients thinking they are already protected, how much easier will it be for the government to proceed to collecting data in other supposedly secure ways (as in the name of anti-terrorism)?? Grrrrr...

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

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