The New Year’s Biggest Privacy Risks


Many Americans are wrapping up a holiday season filled with online shopping, Facebook status updates, and gifts of smartphones and eBook readers. Now that the New Year is upon us, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is urging Americans to pay attention to the privacy risks that accompany these trending technologies.

Comments to California Dept. of Public Health: Medical Information Breach Regulations


Consumers enter a hospital or another care facility in California should not have to worry that their health and financial data might end up on a social networking website, in the tabloids, in a dumpster, or in the hands of an identity thief. Yet, instances of the breach of healthcare data in California continue at an alarming pace.

Caremark Reportedly Shares Confidential Prescription Information to Steer Business to CVS Pharmacies


Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) has persistently challenged the health care industry’s improper use and disclosure of confidential medical information, which in many instances is used to market new or additional medication to patients. PRC has become aware that Caremark, a CVS owned company and one of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), is improperly sharing prescription information with CVS to steer pharmacy patients to CVS pharmacies.

Comments to FTC: Collection of a Deceased Person's Debt


On October 8, 2010, the FTC announced a policy regarding debt collectors’ communications with third parties regarding a decedent’s debt. In this, the FTC expands the numbers of individuals a collector may contact when the debtor is deceased. We urge the Commission to reconsider this policy or at a minimum to offer guidance for individuals who may be contacted by a collector about a deceased consumer’s debt. We further urge the Commission to reconsider its policy regarding no enforcement for deceased debtor contacts.

Check Out of Your Checking Account


Is your bank starting to charge you monthly fees for your formerly free checking account? Has a large, impersonal bank taken over the smaller bank that you were used to? Do you visit your local branch for service, and receive a sales pitch for products that you do not want? For these and other reasons, many consumers have become dissatisfied with their banking arrangements. If you are unhappy with your current bank, this alert will help you navigate the issues involved in switching your checking account to a new financial institution.

Societal Perspectives on the Role of Privacy in Social Networking Sites


Web 2.0, or the social web, means two things for the world of privacy: 1. The end of forgetting. The information posted on the Internet has the potential to exist in perpetuity. As individuals live increasingly in cyberspace, scholars like Jeffrey Rosen and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger point out that the unforgetting and often unforgiving eye of the Internet may create a hyper-vigilant society and suppress free expression. The Internet, some have postulated, could become a modern Panopticon. 2. Casual documentation. With the rise of easily accessible social media, consumers have become content producers en masse. Consumers are not only providing location data, photographs, videos and biographical details, but they are providing to-the-moment insight into their thoughts and feelings. The community of hyper-sharing encourages others to share by example. The result? Individuals posting their every moment with what some might call narcissistic abandon.

Geotag, You're It! What Your Smartphone Might Be Saying Behind Your Back


Snap a photo of a sunset with your iPhone and you can upload it to Twitter with a few clicks. But your smartphone might be transmitting more than a pretty photograph. It could be collecting and storing data about your real-time location – and then broadcasting that information when you upload photos onto the Internet. What is Geotagging? Geotagging refers to the practice of adding location information – like GPS coordinates – to different types of media, such as photos. The location information is embedded in a way that may not be visible to the naked eye. There are several ways to make geotags visible, including browser plug-ins and software programs that can reveal the location information embedded in photos, videos and other types of media.

New Federal Law Protects Gift Card Users


Is the gift card that you received for your birthday last month burning a hole in your pocket? Do you still have an unused gift card from the holidays? Consumers often have had to worry about using gift cards before they lost their value. That will now begin to change for the better.

Until recently, many gift cards users had few legal rights to protect them from fees and expiration dates. Although some states had laws protecting gift card users, there was no federal law offering nationwide consumer protections. That has now changed with a new federal law (the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act) that provides important protections for gift cards sold on or after August 22, 2010.

Comments to Health and Human Services: Privacy and Security Rule Modification


The Heath Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 calls for certain changes to previously issued HHS rules regarding privacy of individuals’ medical records (the Privacy Rule), security of electronic health records (Security Rule), and enforcement of the security and privacy provisions (Enforcement Rule). The current rule proposal encompasses the HITECH modifications for all three HIPAA rules.

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