Supreme Court Strikes Down Prescription Privacy Law

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's prescription privacy law. IMS Health, Inc. v. Sorrell held that the Vermont statute, which bars disclosure of prescription data for marketing purposes, violates data mining firms' free speech rights. Vermont "burdened a form of protected expression that it found too persuasive. At the same time, the State has left unburdened those speakers whose messages are in accord with its own views. This the State cannot do." the Court wrote. The Court suggested that a more privacy-protective statute might have withstood Constitutional scrutiny, writing "the State might have advanced its asserted privacy interest by allowing the information’s sale or disclosure in only a few narrow and well-justified circumstances. A statute of that type would present quite a different case than the one presented here." 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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