In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss the Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) recently published request for information (“RFI”) seeking comment on implementing certain provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.  The RFI seeks input as to how covered entities and business

2021 was another busy year for data privacy regulatory enforcement and litigation. With some distance to reflect on last year, we have prepared this post identifying and describing important trends from 2021 that can help provide insight into what to expect in the data privacy landscape in 2022.

Data Privacy Regulatory Enforcement Trends

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state enforcement action in 2021 centered on several key areas, including protecting children.

An FTC enforcement action last year alleged that the maker of an online coloring book application violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information about children who used the app without notifying their parents and obtaining their consent.  The allegations note that the app included a “Kids” category that was targeted to children.  The FTC further claimed that the app’s social media features collected personal information from users and that some parents, lacking knowledge of these features, may have inadvertently permitted their young children to use the app.
Continue Reading 2021 Trends in Privacy Regulatory Enforcement and Litigation

In a new post on the Covington Digital Health blog, our colleagues discuss recently announced Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) guidance meant to help companies determine their obligations under the Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”).  The guidance follows the FTC’s September 2021 Policy Statement, which expanded the Rule’s application to the developers of health

On Wednesday, October 6th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 41, the Genetic Information Privacy Act, which expands genetic privacy protections for consumers in California, including those interacting with direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) genetic testing companies.  In a recent Inside Privacy blog post, our colleagues discussed SB 41 and the growing patchwork of state genetic privacy laws

Last Friday, October 1, the Protecting DNA Privacy Act (HB 833), a new genetic privacy law, went into effect in the state of Florida establishing four new crimes related to the unlawful use of another person’s DNA.  While the criminal penalties in HB 833 are notable, Florida is not alone in its focus on increased genetic privacy protections.  A growing number of states, including Utah, Arizona, and California, have begun developing a net of genetic privacy protections to fill gaps in federal and other state legislation, often focused on the privacy practices of direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) genetic testing companies.  While some processing of genetic information is covered by federal law, the existing patchwork of federal genetic privacy protections do not clearly cover all forms of genetic testing, including DTC genetic tests.
Continue Reading Newly Effective Florida Law Imposing Criminal Sanctions Adds to Developing Nationwide Patchwork of State Genetic Privacy Laws

With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, more and more businesses are planning to reopen their physical office spaces.  They are confronted with ensuring a safe workplace and minimizing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.  As employers consider health screening measures, ranging from temperature checks to vaccine mandates, they must navigate complex privacy issues.
Continue Reading COVID-19: Legal Considerations and Best Practices for Employers Processing Vaccination Data

As COVID-19 vaccination becomes required in more personal and professional contexts, several different frameworks have emerged that propose both guiding principles and technical requirements for vaccine verification systems, including those developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Good Health Pass Collaborative (GHPC).
Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Frameworks: Emerging Standards Seek to Balance Privacy Concerns With Public Health Benefits

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) adopted, on a 3-2 party-line vote, a policy statement that takes a broad view of which health apps and connected devices are subject to the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”) and what triggers the Rule’s notification requirement.

The Rule was promulgated in 2009 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.  Under the Rule, vendors of personal health records that are not otherwise regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) are required to notify individuals, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media following a breach involving unsecured identifiable health information.  Third-party service providers also are required to notify covered vendors of any breach.
Continue Reading FTC Adopts Policy Statement on Privacy Breaches by Health Apps and Connected Devices

To add to the growing number of bills that would amend or revoke Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, last month Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Health Misinformation Act of 2021 (S.2448).  Senator Ben Lujan (D-NM) cosponsored the bill.

The bill would amend Section 230 to revoke the Act’s liability shield