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Medical Privacy

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Date: Mar 03, 2011 - 10:00 AM
In a bit more sober note, the EFF's filed an amicus brief in an upcoming Supreme Court case regarding medical privacy.

If you're a law nerd or otherwise into some drier reading, the full brief is available over on their website as well.

Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
asked the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to focus on the
privacy issues at stake in a battle over the sale and data
mining of medical records, urging justices to reverse a
ruling that could jeopardize patient privacy.

At issue is Vermont's Prescription Confidentially Law,
which bans pharmacies from selling or using patients'
prescription records for marketing purposes without the
doctor's express consent. Companies that collect and sell
these records challenged the law in court, arguing that
they use "de-identified" information and that the law
infringed their corporate free speech rights. The 2nd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the companies.
In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, EFF argued that the
appeals court wrongly ignored patient privacy in its

"There are serious questions about the efficacy of such
'de-identification.' We're concerned that the data-mining
will expose patients' prescription histories, which leads
to discovery of their underlying medical conditions," said
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Requiring consent
before using this extremely sensitive data is a reasonable
protection, and claiming this information is 'public' and
not really private goes against common sense. The First
Amendment does not require the sacrifice of our privacy to
promote data exchanges that benefit only commercial

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