Telehealth Soapbox: A random walk through privacy, “the right to be forgotten” and health tech

click to enlargeGoogle Never Forgets, How Drones=Flying Smartphones and the Big Stick of Corporate Wellness.

Privacy. Intrusiveness…two of the key hot buttons in reactions on The Gimlet Eye’s latest sally-ho on Google Glass. While Google has been able to settle with 38 US states on Google Street View’s’ ‘Wi-Spy’ on illegally acquiring unencrypted personal data, including health data, for a bag-of-shells price of $7.3 million (iHealthBeat), the beat goes on in Europe. Spain’s data protection authority and Google are slugging it out in the European Court of Justice after Google lost in the Audiencia Nacional on whether Spanish or California (Google HQ) law regulates the continued distribution of potentially embarrassing, but long past, information. According to EURactiv.com:

The case could determine the scope of a draft EU law intended to strengthen citizens’ privacy. Rules proposed by the European Commission in 2012 and being debated by the European Parliament would give people “the right to be forgotten” – to have personal data deleted – in particular from the web.

click to enlargeAnd while Glass gives the ground view, how about Dem Drones? Are they not, after all, just smartphones with wings? They take pictures, track locations and…spy. 81 public and private organizations are already cleared to fly, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is about to approve commercial drone use by 2015.  After all, before a US Senate committee, it became a butt of a queasy joke by a Senator who spent most of his career as a comedian. Since facial recognition is part of the package, perhaps they will train on Mr. Franken. Will Street View be replaced by drones? Senate Hearing: Drones Are “Basically Flying Smartphones” (PopSci) And if you want to repel ’em, Domestic Drone Countermeasures may be able to come to your aid, with anti-drone tech for the masses.

Have we not already given up our privacy, in large part? When it comes to the work sphere, there’s a gauntlet awaiting you where tech and privacy meet at the corner of Cost. Huge retailer and pharmacy benefits manager CVS Caremark has made unwanted headlines with their new employee policy; if you are covered by their health plan, you must participate in their ‘voluntary’ health screenings and management program by 1 May or be charged $50 per month. CVS’ public face is their retail stores, manned by the young and older who make not much above the minimum wage. While many may not be in the plan (the young via parents, older through Medicare or spouses), the idea of workers being penalized for non-participation (the stick) is controversial. Adding to it, the program is administered by WebMD, which needs the business badly. Personal health data is supposedly secured by them, inaccessible to CVS–but it is easy to envision it becoming a base for their new Health Cloud PHR/monitoring data aggregator and that information being further ‘developed’. It almost doesn’t matter if the data will not be touched by CVS Caremark. The perception is that CVS will somehow ‘pierce the veil’ and use the data for HR decisions on who to hire and fire, to promote or not. Already there’s a whirlwind of bad PR and the spectacle of CVS execs running for shelter….and since the Patient Privacy Rights group is involved, are lawsuits in places like California not far behind? The attorneys are already lining up. The downside for we concerned types is that there are already far more attractive ways being used to incentivize employees to improve their health and (probably) productivity. This big stick, no carrot approach is not it.  (Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, take notice–‘too big to fail’ does not include soda, but does include the city’s broken fisc which has far more impact on health care.) CVS presses workers for medical information; Privacy group decries ‘invasive’ act (Boston Herald)For workers at CVS, body fat can be costly (MSN Money) and CVS issues weight mandate (CBS San Francisco). Video below.

Hat tip to TANN Ireland’s Toni Bunting for Euractiv.com and PopSci articles.

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Categories: Latest News, Opinion, and Soapbox.

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