Experiment with online medical privacy

Much attention has greeted Google’s pilot project to provide electronic medical records online. But concerns about violations of privacy are woefully misplaced.


Considering the state of medical privacy, the gain from consumer-controlled medical records simply outweighs privacy concerns. Rather than apply a federal medical privacy law to Google, state legislatures interested in protecting privacy should strengthen laws permitting individuals to sue health privacy violators.


By giving consumers control, Google gives them responsibility, too. Those who give out their passwords unwisely could lose their privacy, but that is the price we pay for empowerment. If we wish to protect consumers from their carelessness (or any negligence or incompetence on Google’s part), states should let individuals sue firms that negligently or intentionally release medical data and those who distribute it. Aggrieved parties could go after such “Internet pirates” in the same way the record companies pursue illegal music downloaders.

Adam Candeub is assistant professor and acting director of the Intellectual Property and Communications Law Program at the Michigan State University College of Law.

Full editorial – Detroit News

Related – Google Public Policy Blog: Google Health, privacy, and HIPAA

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