OCR Settlement a Message to Providers: Every Day Counts to Notify Affected Persons After a HIPAA Data Breach

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a settlement with Presence Health Network relating to its failure to provide timely notification of a breach of unsecured protected health information under the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). OCR data breach settlements typically concern a covered entity’s failure to properly secure protected health information; this marks the first settlement involving a provider’s failure to report a data breach in a timely manner.

Under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rules, covered entities must provide notification of a breach without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 days following the discovery of a breach to affected individuals, and, in breaches affecting more than 500 individuals, to OCR and the media.

Presence Health is a not-for-profit health system serving 150 locations in Illinois. Presence Health first discovered that some paper copies of its surgery schedules at one location were missing on October 22, 2013, and these documents contained the protected health information of 836 individuals. The information consisted of the Continue reading

LabMD Appeals; Court Grants Temporary Stay

lab_specimensIn a recent blog post entitled “FTC Issues Final Order and Data Security Lessons in LabMD Case,” we discussed the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”)’s Final Order in the LabMD case.  The FTC found that LabMD failed to provide reasonable and appropriate security for its customers’ personal information and that this failure caused (or was likely to cause) substantial consumer harm constituting an unfair act in violation of the law.  It  ordered LabMD to implement a number of compliance measures, including creating a comprehensive information security program, undergoing professional routine assessments of that program, providing notice to any possible affected individual and health insurance company, and setting up a toll-free hotline for any affected individual to call.  Although LabMD has closed its doors and has limited resources to comply with the FTC’s Final Order, it appealed the Final Order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  At the same time, it sought a stay from the FTC, which would halt these compliance measures pending the court’s review. The FTC denied the stay, so LabMD then asked the Eleventh Circuit to grant the stay.

On November 10, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit granted LabMD’s motion to stay enforcement of the Final Order pending appeal.  A copy of the court’s Order granting the stay is available here.  When issuing the stay, the court found that there existed a serious legal question as to Continue reading

FTC issues Final Order and data security lessons in LabMD case

After HoursOn July 29, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made the latest move in its battle with LabMD, Inc. (LabMD) when it reversed an initial decision by an administrative law judge (ALJ).  The FTC determined that LabMD’s data security practices constitute an unfair act or practice within the meaning of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.  It issued an Opinion and Final Order requiring LabMD to “notify affected consumers, establish a comprehensive information security program reasonably designed to protect the security and confidentiality of the personal consumer information in its possession, and obtain independent assessments regarding its implementation of the program.”

This fight began in 2013 when the FTC first filed a Complaint contending that LabMD failed to reasonably protect data maintained on its computer network.  Two alleged security incidents form the basis of the Complaint.  In the first incident, Tiversa, trying to solicit LabMD’s business, discovered that a June 2007 insurance aging report containing personal information was available on a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network and informed LabMD.  In the second incident, dozens of day sheets and a small number of Continue reading

A Single Stolen, Unencrypted Laptop Can Cost Entities Millions of Dollars

laptop encryptionEarlier this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced two, multimillion dollar settlements relating to “potential” privacy and security violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  Both settlements stem from the entity’s reports to OCR of the thefts of unencrypted laptops containing electronic protected health information (ePHI) even though one of the laptops was password protected.

First, on March 16, 2016, OCR announced that North Memorial Health Care of Minnesota agreed to pay $1,550,000 to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules after a laptop containing the ePHI of 9,497 individuals was stolen from the vehicle of one of its contractors in July 2011.

OCR’s subsequent investigation determined that North Memorial failed to enter into a business associate agreement with this contractor, as required under the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.  The investigation also discovered that North Memorial failed to conduct an organization-wide risk analysis to address all of the risks and vulnerabilities to its ePHI.  OCR concluded Continue reading

To Freeze or Not to Freeze? That Is the Question

UPDATE: Senate Bill 23 did not become law during 2016 Kentucky Legislative Session. The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate. It was then sent to the House, where it was read twice, amended, but never read for the third and final time.


Overview

The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s General Assembly is considering a bill which would permit parents to place security freezes on their children’s credit record. Senate Bill 23 (SB 23) was introduced in the Senate on January 6, 2016. After several readings and committee reviews, it was approved by the Senate with minor changes and sent to the House Banking & Insurance Committee on February 11, 2016. The 2016 Kentucky Legislative Session will adjourn on April 12, 2016.

Credit cards & keyboardChildren do not have credit reports since they generally do not have credit in their names. So SB 23 provides that if there is no credit file/credit report, then the consumer reporting agency must create such a record for the protected person (as defined below).

SB 23 would require a consumer reporting agency to place a security freeze on a protected person’s record or report upon proper request by a representative. A “protected person” is defined as “an individual who is under sixteen (16) years of age at the time a request for the placement of a security freeze is made, or who is an incapacitated person or other person for whom a guardian or conservator has been appointed.”

State Laws and the Three Major Consumer Reporting Agencies Vary on Security Freezes for Children

The National Council of State Legislators reports that only “twenty-three states allow parents, legal guardians or Continue reading