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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Message sent and received: First HIPAA settlement involving a business associate – a cautionary tale

obamacare_repealThe math is eye-opening — a $650,000 settlement for breach affecting 412 people. In the first HIPAA settlement involving a “business associate,” HHS’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has sent a strong message to all business associates about the importance of complying with HIPAA’s privacy and security rules.

Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS), a non-profit organization that provides management and information technology services to skilled nursing facilities, is a business associate under HIPAA because performed certain services using protected health information (PHI) on behalf of a HIPAA “covered entity” (a description of covered entities is here and a description of business associates is here). In 2014 a smartphone provided by CHCS to an employee was stolen. The smartphone had PHI of 412 patients and was neither encrypted nor password-protected. Read more…

Examining the rewards and risks of wearable tech

July 28, 2015 1 comment

wearable_techThe important role of technology in our daily lives continues to grow and is now being fueled by the development of smaller more personal devices. Wearable technology are small, electronic devices designed to track and collect data for various purposes – ranging from smart watches and fitness monitors, to full desktop experiences offered by smart glasses. According to a PwC report entitled The Wearable Future, twenty percent of Americans already own a wearable device and this number is expected to rise, with most users utilizes these devices to record exercise efficiency (81%), track dietary and medical info (71%), and for notifications on deals on retail purchases (51%).

The market for wearable tech is expected to expand with a jump from $5 billion in 2014 to over an estimated $12 billion by 2018, according to Statista. There is no denying the significant influence these wearable devices have on how we live and work, however as is the case with many forward-thinking innovations, along with the rewards of advancement also comes some risksRead more…

Leading the charge against cyber privacy violations

ediscoveryJay Edelson’s firm, Edelson PC, has been lead plaintiff counsel in highly publicized class-action suits brought against technology companies on the grounds of privacy violations. His firm has targeted early stage start-ups to technology giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google.

In early April, Edelson filed a lawsuit against Facebook on the basis that the social media site has “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.” Having this data provides Facebook with the ability to recognize faces, and automatically name members and their friends in pictures that have been uploaded to the site. Edelson PC’s suit claims that Facebook violated Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act by storing images of its members’ faces without their knowledge or permission. It also claims that the social media site failed to indicate how long these images would be stored. Facebook has stated that the lawsuit is “without merit,” and users can turn off the feature at any time. By turning it off, the data that suggests tags to others is subsequently terminated.
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Collaboration is the key when it comes to cybersecurity

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

cyber_securityThe President, industry leaders, and lawmakers visited the tech-hub of Stanford University earlier this month for an official White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection. The discussions focused on increasing collaboration between the government and the private sector in order to prevent potentially crippling data breaches. The administration hopes that this will encourage Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation. Here are a few key takeaways from the summit:

  1. Cybersecurity is an issue for all sectors of the economy.
    The Identity Theft Resource Center found that 85 million records were exposed last year both in the public and private sectors. Cyber attackers trumped terrorists as the #1 threat to national security last year while data breaches on companies such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Target, Home Depot, and most recently, insurance giant Anthem Inc., resulted in costly losses.

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Anthem data breach latest scare for health insurers

data-securityThe nation’s second largest health insurer, Anthem (which includes several major Blue Cross and Blue Shields brands), has reported a major data breach. Last Wednesday, security personnel discovered a hack in which cyber thieves accessed the names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses and member IDs of up to 80 million current and former policy holders. Anthem’s President and CEO, Joseph R. Swedish, in a letter to its current and former members said that through its initial analysis of the breach “there is no evidence that credit card or medical information, such as claims, test results or diagnostic codes were targeted or compromised.” Nevertheless, the impact of this breach is significant. Read more…

Body cameras in healthcare

December 8, 2014 Leave a comment

dr_cameraMuch of the post-Ferguson conversation has been around cameras that might be mounted on more police officers.  Already in use in some places for the protection of the public (and sometimes, the police) from false reporting of crimes, these cameras are not limited to improving security.

Fans of author David Eggers may recall that in his recent novel The Circle (an internet age 1984 story), the fictional combo Amazon/Google monster known as The Circle mounts cameras on all of its employees. From there, it moves on to bringing truth (or at least truthiness) to the political sphere when politicians try to outdo each other for the title of “most transparent” by agreeing to wear cameras provided by The Circle.  Needless to say, this puts immense power in the hands of the three mysterious founders of The Circle, and drama and sadness follow. Read more…

HIPAA violators not immune from criminal charges

November 4, 2014 Leave a comment

HIPAA_violatorsIn light of recent reports of a hospital employee facing criminal charges for violating privacy requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it’s clear that not only do violators of the law risk losing their job if they’re caught, they could end up in jail. The case isn’t the first federal prosecution under the Act – back in 2010, a Californian doctor received four months in jail after pleading guilty to four misdemeanor counts of snooping into the medical records of his supervisors and several well-known celebrities. While these cases are not common, they serve as a stark reminder to employees of HIPAA covered entities that the courts take HIPAA violations seriously and do not hold back delivering fines and criminal sanctions to those found guilty of breaking the law. Read more…