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Olivia Vega

Olivia Vega provides strategic advice to global companies on a broad range of privacy, health care, and technology issues, including in technology transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and regulatory compliance. Within her practice, Olivia counsels clients on navigating the complex web of federal and state privacy and data security laws and regulations, including on topics such as HIPAA, California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, and the California Consumer Privacy Act. In addition, Olivia maintains an active pro bono practice.

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Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its enforcement action against telehealth firm, Cerebral, Inc. (“Cerebral”), for its alleged unauthorized disclosures of consumers’ sensitive personal health information and other sensitive data to third parties for advertising purposes in violation of the FTC Act.  The complaint also alleges that Cerebral violated the Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act (“OARFPA”), and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (“ROSCA”), which permits the court to order permanent injunctive relief, civil penalties, and other monetary relief for actions in violations of specific sections of the FTC Act, the OARFPA, and the ROSCA.  According to the proposed order, Cerebral must pay more than $7 million in civil penalties and consumer refunds.  In addition, Cerebral will be banned from using or disclosing consumers’ personal and health information (including online identifiers, such as IP addresses or other persistent identifiers) for advertising and must obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before disclosing such information to outside parties.

Below is a discussion of the complaint and proposed order.Continue Reading FTC Announces Health Privacy Enforcement Action Against Telehealth Company, Cerebral

On March 18, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“HHS OCR”) updated its “Use of Online Tracking Technologies by HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates” guidance addressing how regulated entities may use tracking technologies on their websites and mobile applications in a manner compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”).  The guidance, originally published in December 2022, states that HIPAA-regulated entities are not permitted to leverage tracking technologies in ways that would result in an impermissible disclosure of protected health information (“PHI”) or other violation of HIPAA.  The guidance also emphasizes the importance of safeguarding PHI and notes that regulated entities may not share PHI with tracking technology vendors (e.g., third-party advertisers) absent a business associate agreement (“BAA”) with the vendor or pursuant to a patient authorization. Continue Reading HHS OCR Updates Tracking Technologies Guidance

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an updated joint publication describing the privacy and security laws and rules that impact consumer health data.  Specifically, the “Collecting, Using, or Sharing Consumer Health Information? Look to HIPAA, the FTC Act, and the Health Breach Notification Rule” guidance provides an overview of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended, and the implementing regulations issued by HHS (collectively “HIPAA”); the FTC Act; and the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”) and how they may apply to businesses.  This joint guidance follows a recent surge of FTC enforcement in the health privacy space.  We offer below a high-level summary of the requirements flagged by the guidance.Continue Reading FTC and HHS Announce Updated Health Privacy Publication

The Connecticut legislature passed Connecticut SB 3 on June 2, 2023.  If enacted by the governor, the bill would amend the Connecticut Data Privacy Act (“CTDPA”) to include a number of provisions related to health and minors’ data. Additional detail on the CTDPA can be found in our previous blog post here.

The health-related provisions would take effect on July 1, 2023.  Most provisions related to minors’ data would take effect on October 1, 2024.  However, requirements that social media platforms “unpublish” or delete certain minors’ accounts would come into effect on July 1, 2024.

As reflected in this bill, state legislatures appear increasingly focused on health privacy.  Connecticut’s bill comes on the heels of Nevada’s SB 370, which the Nevada legislature passed, and which, if enacted would impose requirements on consumer health data.  Both the Nevada and Connecticut bill resemble Washington’s My Health My Data Act, although they appear generally narrower in scope.  For additional detail on Washington’s My Health My Data Act, please review our blog post hereContinue Reading Connecticut Legislature Passes Amendments to the Connecticut Data Privacy Act

On May 18, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (the “proposed rule”) to “strengthen and modernize” the Health Breach Notification Rule (“HBNR”).  The proposed rule builds on the FTC’s September 2021 “Statement of the Commission on Breaches by Health Apps and Other Connected Devices” (“Policy Statement”), which took a broad approach to when health apps and connected devices are covered by the HBNR and when there is a “breach” for purposes of the HBNR.  The proposed rule primarily would (i) amend many definitions that are central to the scope of the HBNR (e.g., “breach of security,” “health care provider,” and “personal health record”), and (ii) authorize expanded means for providing notice to consumers of a breach and require additional notice content.  According to the FTC, these changes to the HBNR would ensure the HBNR “remains relevant in the face of changing business practices and technological developments.”  Below, we provide a brief summary of the history of the HBNR leading up to this proposed rule, a brief summary of the proposed rule, and a timeline for commenting.Continue Reading FTC Announces a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Expand Scope of the Health Breach Notification Rule

On April 17, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS”) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would revise the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) Privacy Rule to bar certain uses and disclosures of protected health information (“PHI”) related to reproductive health care.  Specifically, the proposed rule (“Rule”) would amend the Privacy Rule to prohibit covered entities or business associates (collectively, “regulated entities”) from using or disclosing PHI for purposes of (1) criminal, civil, or administrative investigations into or proceedings against any person in connection with seeking, obtaining, providing, or facilitating lawful reproductive health care, or (2) the identification of any person for the purpose of initiating such investigations or proceedings.

The Rule appears to be designed to further President Biden’s executive order directing HHS to consider actions that would “strengthen the protection of sensitive information related to reproductive healthcare services and bolster patient-provider confidentiality.”  President Biden issued the order in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Below, we provide a brief summary of the proposed changes and a timeline for commenting.Continue Reading HHS Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on HIPAA and the Use and Disclosure of Information Related to Reproductive Health Care

On April 11, the Indiana legislature passed comprehensive state privacy legislation in the form of S.B. 5. S.B. 5 shares similarities with the state privacy laws in Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, Utah, and most recently Iowa.  If signed into law, S.B. 5 would take effect on January 1, 2026.  This blog post summarizes the statute’s key takeaways.Continue Reading Indiana Passes Comprehensive Privacy Statute

On April 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that four Notifications of Enforcement Discretion (“Notifications”) that were issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended, and its implementing regulations (collectively, “HIPAA”) during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on May 11, 2023.  In response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, OCR announced it would exercise enforcement discretion with respect to noncompliance with certain provisions of HIPAA.  Now that the public health emergency is set to expire, OCR is rescinding the relevant Notifications.  Below, we summarize the four Notifications that are set to expire:Continue Reading HHS Issues Notice of Expiration of COVID-19 HIPAA Enforcement Discretion

Washington’s My Health My Data Act (“HB 1155” or the “Act”), which would expand privacy protections for the health data of Washington consumers, recently passed the state Senate after advancing through the state House of Representatives.  Provided that the House approves the Senate’s amendments, the Act could head to the governor’s desk for signature in the coming days and become law.  The Act was introduced in response to the United States Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.   If enacted, the Act could dramatically affect how companies treat the health data of Washington residents. 

This blog post summarizes a few key takeaways in the statute.Continue Reading Washington’s My Health My Data Act Passes State Senate

On March 8, 2023, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response and the Health Sector Coordinating Counsel Joint Cybersecurity Working Group, released an updated version of its Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guide (the “Guide”) “to help the public and private health care sectors prevent cybersecurity incidents.”  Specifically, the Guide aims to help healthcare organizations leverage the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to “determine their cybersecurity goals, assess their current cybersecurity practices, or lack thereof, and help identify gaps for remediation.”  Continue Reading HHS Releases Guidance to Help Healthcare Organizations Align with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework