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    Archive for the ‘Medical data’ Category

    New York Times: Oops! Health Insurer Exposes Member Data

    Thursday, November 13th, 2014

    The New York Times reports that health insurance company Anthem Blue Cross sent e-mails to some customers that contained sensitive information in the subject lines:

    On Monday, in a similar error, some California residents received emails from their health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross, with personal details about them contained in the subject line.

    The text of the emails encouraged members to visit their doctors for checkups and to discuss certain medical screening tests. [...]

    But the emails’ subject lines included member-specific demographic details like age range and language. They also listed possible medical screening tests — marked “Y” for recommended tests and “N” for tests not listed in the email. [...] Read more »

    Fortune: What’s behind the dramatic rise in medical identity theft?

    Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

    Fortune reports on an increase in cases of medical identity theft in the United States, which has implications for patients’ health privacy:

    In the last five years, the number of data breaches in the medical sector has quadrupled. Last year, for the first time, the medical sector experienced more breaches than any other. It’s again on track to lead in 2014, according to the ID Theft Center. While the health care industry has long suffered fraud by providers or employees fraudulently billing insurers, Medicare, or Medicaid, the medical industry is only just now trying to catch up to the quickly growing threat from hackers.

    With the increasing digitization of health information (in the form of electronic health records) and the formation of health exchanges (due to the Affordable Care Act), the trend in medical identity theft is unlikely to abate any time soon. Personal medical information is useful to many different types of criminals, which is why it fetches a higher price on the black market than financial information. Read more »

    IT News (Australia): NSW to add offshore data rules into privacy legislation

    Monday, October 20th, 2014

    IT News in Australia reports that New South Wales Attorney-General Brad Hazzard is considering new privacy rules for the storing of data offshore:

    The office of NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard has confirmed the government’s intentions to update the state’s privacy legislation to make it clear where agencies and healthcare providers stand when it comes to storing data offshore, particularly as part of cloud computing arrangements.

    The NSW Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Coombs, finalised her draft code of practice for offshore data hosting and handed it to the Attorney-General in May this year, after a number of aborted attempts by her predecessors. [...] Read more »

    ESPN: NBA players union wants to ensure privacy in data collection

    Friday, October 10th, 2014

    ESPN reports that the NBA’s players union is considering players’ privacy rights as teams increasingly track players’ on- and off-court activities:

    As NBA teams use increased technology to track players on and off the court, the players’ union wants to ensure that privacy is still being protected.

    Franchises have been scrutinizing player movement on the court since the 2012-13 season, but data collection has also recently extended beyond the hardwood. Various teams have begun experimenting with sleep trackers, off-court movement monitors and fluid tests — including blood and sweat — in order to improve player health and performance.

    These developments have happened so quickly and quietly, however, that the National Basketball Players Association was not aware of these widespread biometric advances, and had not established a position on the issue, until ESPN The Magazine approached the union for comment in August. Read more »

    Vox: 23andMe reverses its decision to move to more lax privacy settings

    Thursday, September 18th, 2014

    Vox reports on a decision concerning the privacy of medical data by by genetics testing company 23andMe:

    The personal genetics testing company 23andMe is reversing plans to make a major change to its privacy settings, after a Vox story raised concerns about the move.

    On September 9, we published a feature about some of the pitfalls of personal DNA testing, with a focus on 23andMe, a leading company in the field. We talked to some people who used 23andMe and ended up unexpectedly finding close family members they didn’t know they had. In one case, a professor’s parents divorced after the site revealed that his father had a child before he was married. We reported that 23andMe was planning to alter its user settings in a way that could make these unexpected reunions happen more frequently. [...]

    But, because of concerns raised by the Vox story, the company reversed its decision to make those changes. It is also going to hire a Chief Privacy Officer.

    Read the Vox story for the full statement from the 23andMe chief executive.

    New York Times: With Apple Pay and Smartwatch, a Privacy Challenge

    Thursday, September 11th, 2014

    On Tuesday, computing company Apple announced several new products and services, including a smart watch (dubbed Apple Watch) and an electronic payment system (called Apple Pay). Because of the sensitive data involved (there’s financial data with Apple Pay and the smart watch has much of the personal data that a cellphone would have, and it can also use Apple’s HealthKit to gather medical information while a person exercises, such as heart rate), there are privacy questions to consider. The New York Times reports:

    For years, Apple has offered Internet services like email and online calendars. But Tuesday, with the introduction of health-monitoring technology and a new service that will allow people to buy things wirelessly with some Apple devices, the Cupertino, Calif., company positioned itself as a caretaker of valuable personal information, like credit card numbers and heart rates.

    Talk about unfortunate timing. Just last week, a number of celebrities, including the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, discovered that hackers broke into their Apple accounts, stole nude or provocative photos, and posted those photos on the Internet. [...]

    Against that background, Apple faces two threats to its new services: one from hackers always looking for clever ways to steal financial information, and another from regulators increasingly interested in ensuring that information gleaned from health monitoring devices stays private.  Read more »