Advocacy Alert: Coping with the Clampdown: FTC’s New Guidance for Health Data Privacy

August 24, 2023

via Nelson Hardiman

In recent years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has emerged as a formidable enforcer in the healthcare privacy arena, taking action against companies like Flo Health, BetterHelp, GoodRx, Premom, and Vitagene for inadequate protection of consumers’ sensitive health data. This has included using its broad authority under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and enforcing its Health Breach Notification Rule. This Rule, which was long overlooked, has gotten significant attention of recent FTC activity, because it fills a gap by addressing businesses that may fall outside the narrower reach of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), including health and fitness apps and other consumer platforms or online products or services.

As a consequence, it has become critical for businesses that collect, use, store or disclose consumer health data to fully understand and implement practices to protect consumer health data privacy and security. In late July 2023, the FTC provided new practical guidance to help businesses stay within evolving regulatory guidelines and maintain the trust of their consumers.

Examining the FTC recent guidance reveals a dramatic expansion in the definition of what can constitute protected health information. Traditionally, health data was thought of as information directly related to medical history, such as the content typically found on medical forms.

Read more in Nelson Hardiman's Regulatory Update.

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