In Data Mining Case, Supreme Court Explores Privacy

A spirited dialogue about the right of privacy dominated oral argument in a Supreme Court case on medical record data mining. Justice Breyer implied that the Federal Trade Commission could prevent existing commercial uses of private medical data by deeming the practices to be unfair and deceptive. Justices Sotomayor and Kennedy both pressured the data mining companies to focus on the constitutionality of preventing the spread of sensitive medical information. Justice Scalia even challenged the Vermont Medical Privacy Statute under review as insufficiently dedicated to protecting prescriber privacy. EPIC filed an amicus brief on behalf of 27 technical experts and legal scholars, as well as nine consumer and privacy groups, arguing that the privacy interest in safeguarding medical records is substantial and that the de-identification techniques adopted by data mining firms do not protect patient privacy. For more information, see EPIC: IMS Health v. Sorrell.

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