Category Archives: Health Privacy

Advocate Health Care Network Agrees to Pay $5.55 Million to Settle Potential HIPAA Penalties

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On August 4, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) announced that Advocate Health Care Network (“Advocate”), Illinois’ largest fully-integrated health care system, has agreed to pay a record-breaking $5.55 million to settle claims of multiple Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) violations involving electronic protected health information (“ePHI”).  The substantial settlement stems from the extent and duration of the alleged noncompliance and the large number of individuals whose information was compromised, among other factors. The OCR initiated [...] Read more

HHS/OCR Announces Launch of HIPAA Audit Program Phase 2

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Today, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’s (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the launch of Phase 2 of its HIPAA Compliance Audit Program. (OCR’s announcement can be accessed at Audit Phase 2 Announcement and further information about Phase 2 can be accessed at Audit Phase 2 Information.) In this phase, OCR will review the policies and procedures that covered entities and business associates have adopted and implemented to meet certain standards and implementation specifications of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and/or Breach Notification Rules. Phase 2 will consist [...] Read more

HHS Issues HIPAA Security Rule Crosswalk with NIST Cybersecurity Framework

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Last week, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a crosswalk between the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The crosswalk – which was developed in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT – maps each administrative, physical and technical safeguard standard and implementation specification of the HIPAA Security Rule to the relevant subcategory in the Cybersecurity Framework. HHS notes that, because of the granularity of the NIST Cybersecurity [...] Read more

FTC PrivacyCon Event Examines Cutting-Edge Research and Current Policies Regarding Privacy and Data Security

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The Federal Trade Commission held its PrivacyCon event, featuring nineteen presentations showcasing original research regarding important consumer privacy and security issues by leading academics from universities and think tanks from around the world. A full video recording of the webcast is available here. The conference took place in Washington on Jan. 14, 2016, and included discussion about the policy implications of the research being conducted with thought leaders from academia, research, consumer advocacy, and industry. FTC Commissioner Julie Brill succinctly outlined the top concerns [...] Read more

Jan Dhont Authors Corporate Counsel Article on Safe Harbor Decision

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Jan Dhont, Brussels partner and head of the firm’s European Privacy and Data Protection practice authored the Corporate Counsel article, “The Sinking of the Safe Harbor: Just Another Symbolic Decision?”  In the article, Dhont discusses the concerns and uncertainty stemming from the October 6 European Court of Justice strike-down of Safe Harbor, and where companies may go from here.  This ruling is a matter of global concern and may actually result in less privacy for individuals, not more. Dhont notes that while there are mid- to long-term solutions to take the place of Safe Harbor, [...] Read more

Article 29 Working Party Calls for Political Action

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In a concise statement, the Article 29 Working Party (WP29), a consortium of European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs), released a position paper today about the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice in Maximilian Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner (C-362-14). WP29 makes a political call on the EU Member States to finalize discussions with the US authorities on a political and legal solution for the transfer of personal information from the EU to the US.  The solution should ensure that strong guarantees are provided to EU data subjects against US surveillance.   WP29 calls [...] Read more

A Discussion with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill: The Future of Trans-Atlantic Privacy

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On October 20, Alston & Bird will host a panel discussion with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill. The event will be broadcast as a webinar. Commissioner Brill will discuss the future of U.S. – European privacy with Brussels Partner Jan Dhont and Senior Counsel Peter Swire. The discussion will be moderated by Partner Jim Harvey. This timely discussion with Commissioner Brill follows the European Court of Justice’s rejection of the Safe Harbor framework in the judgment issued on October 6. That rejection affects thousands of businesses engaged in E.U. – U.S. data transfers. Meanwhile, the [...] Read more

David Keating Quoted on Law360 about Data Transfer Issues After Safe Harbor is Invalidated

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David Keating, partner and co-leader of the firm’s Privacy & Data Security practice, was quoted on Law360 regarding the practical impact on companies of the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) invalidating the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor program for transfers of personal data. The ECJ decision requires companies to evaluate the mechanisms they and their vendors use to move data out of the European Union and the European Economic Area. One option that is being discussed by the commentators is to secure individual data subject consents.  David points out that this approach may [...] Read more

European Court of Justice Strikes Down Safe Harbor

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In a momentous judgment, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) today invalidated the European Commission’s decision establishing the E.U.-US Safe Harbor for transfers of personal data (“Safe Harbor Decision”).  The ruling was made with record dispatch, following on an Advocate General Opinion recommending invalidation that was delivered to the Court only two weeks ago. Facts of the case: In the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations, Maximilian Schrems, an Austrian citizen, privacy activist, and Facebook user, lodged a complaint with Ireland's Data Privacy Authority (“DPA”), [...] Read more

Swire Challenges Factual Basis of Schrems Decision

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In an article published today, Senior Counsel Peter Swire challenges the factual basis for the Advocate General’s recent opinion in the so-called “Schrems case” against the E.U.-U.S. Safe Harbor framework. Thousands of U.S. businesses rely on the Safe Harbor framework in order to support the transfer of data from the European Union. As previously discussed on this blog, Maximilian Schrems challenged Safe Harbor by arguing that regulators in each E.U. country should be permitted to make their own determination to accept or reject the framework. Last month, Advocate General Yves Bot recommended [...] Read more