Franken promotes better data protection

In terms of broadband, community leaders tend to focus on deployment and adoption – especially at a local level. These are the top issues on the street – but just as broadband brings a range of opportunities such as telehealth and telework, increased broadband also opens a can of worms in terms of privacy and security concerns. So I was glad to read this week that policy makers at the higher level are thinking about these related issues.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on concern in Congress with risk in electronic medical records…

Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who is chairman of the subcommittee, praised the use of electronic records to track patients after the Interstate 35W bridge collapse. Congress passed a law in 2009 to give doctors and hospitals financial incentives for digitizing records. But, Franken said, “The same wonderful technology that has revolutionized patient health records has also created very real and very serious privacy challenges.”

Franken and data advocates complained that HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] had not put in place stiffened penalties and enforcement allowed under the legislation and said few cases have been prosecuted. “The wild, wild West for data is not an environment of trust,” said Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

According to the Huffington Post, Franken is considering future legislation…

Senator Al Franken, chair of the panel, said he was contemplating legislation to encourage encryption, as well as extending privacy protection requirements beyond healthcare providers, perhaps to online medical record providers.

“The bottom line is that people have a right to privacy and to know that their data is safe and secure, and right now that right is not a reality,” Franken said after the hearing.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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