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Tuesday, June 03, 2008


In my last post, Senator Clinton had strongly recommended a Privacy Czar that would serve under Homeland Security, and straighten out the government’s handling of consumer sensitive data to both protect the individual’s privacy, while keeping the U.S. secure. Next we turn to the privacy of health records where Hillary shines in an array of introduced legislation, but still no bills passed.

From Pogo Was Right/Chronicles of Dissent, there was the Patients’ Privacy Protection Act of 2004, S. 2827, designed to close loopholes in Federal Rules of Evidence that would make sure “every American’s medical records remain confidential.” In other words, all that good stuff you lay on the line with your doc stays with the doc. A judge would have to rule otherwise, but at the same time maintaining patient privacy to the best of his or her ability.

Then, the candidate supported the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2005, S. 306, to “maximize advancing technology’s benefits while protecting Americans from the use of genetic information as a tool for discrimination.” And there was the SAFE-ID Act, S. 810, mentioned in yesterday’s post, when related to healthcare, provides the same protections for personal health data in the U.S. and overseas. In referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Clinton says that HIPAA was meant to have teeth, but laments the 35,000 complaints received based on the act with not one monetary penalty having been levied.

In the Senator’s American Health Choices Plan introduced in September 2007, Pogo points out that privacy is mentioned only once, and that is in a heading on page 7, reading, “Ensure That All Providers and Plans Use Privacy-Protected Information Technology.” You can’t blame the candidate after suffering all these defeats in the passage of a series of well-conceived and well-written bills on privacy. She can be faulted, like all the others, for not insisting that this issue be included in the party’s platform.

Hillary believes we can balance privacy rights and national security using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that Bush whined was too slow. This would be done in three ways by 1)giving Congress oversight over the issue, 2)first seek a warrant for the surveillance, and 3)maintain effective intelligence gathering according to law.

WIRED did a good piece on the candidate back in January of 2007, entitled “Hillary: The Privacy Candidate?” The time period seems almost ancient based on recent developments in the presidential campaign. According to the article, Obama and Edwards have addressed privacy issues throughout their career but “Clinton’s approach is notable for its range and detail,” according to privacy advocates. Chris Hoofnagle, a law professor at UC Berkeley's School of Law and privacy expert said: "Sen. Clinton's plan is well-informed and the most sophisticated statement in recent years by a presidential candidate on privacy issues."

Although I haven’t been able to uncover the source for this statement, WIRED says Senator Clinton’s “general policy position is that companies should cede more control to consumers, and that new legislation should be enacted to make it easier for consumers to recover monetary damages from companies that violate their privacy policies.” Jim Harper of libertarian think tank, The Cato Institute, comments: "The reality (of her proposals) is that they would almost turn the information economy inside out -- it's like saying, 'OK, now the water in the stream is going to flow in the other direction,'"

Isn’t that exactly what we need to do?

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