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New York Court of Appeals Revives Patient Privacy Suit

The New York Court of Appeals has ruled that a patient's family can continue their privacy lawsuit because the patient's death was filmed without their permission and aired on medical show, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein reports. The court greenlighted the plaintiffs' claim that doctor-patient confidentiality was breached, but the court rejected the plaintiffs' intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.

“'We conclude that defendants’ conduct here, while offensive, was not so atrocious and utterly intolerable as to support a cause of action'” for emotional distress, the court opined.

The widow of Mark Chanko recognized her husband moaning in pain on an episode of "NY Med." He was treated at New York Presbyterian Hospital after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street.

Ohio Supreme Court Shields Data On Kids with Lead Poisoning From Law Firm

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a law firm submitted too broad of a records request for data about residences where children were found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies, the Associated Press' Andrew Welsh-Huggins reports.

The court ruled that Lipson O'Shea Legal Group's public records request was too specific and the Board of Health couldn't comply with the request without revealing the identity of the children. The law firm asked for documentation of all homes “'where a minor child was found to have elevated blood lead levels.'"

Small-Scale Violations of Medical Privacy Go Unpunished

Small-scale breaches of patients' medical privacy are going unpunished because officials at the federal office for Civil Rights focus on voluntary compliance as the remedy, ProPublica's Charles Ornstein reports. Many people also cannot turn to their own lawsuits for redress. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act doesn't allow for a private cause of action, and states vary on how much protection tort law provides for medical privacy.

Indiana courts have ruled that healthcare providers are liable for employees who snoop in medical records, but courts in Ohio, Minnesota and New York, as well as other states, have rejected those types of claims, Ornstein reports.

Small-scale breaches of medical privacy can cause the most harm, Ornstein reports. For example, an employee at a New Jersey hospital disclosed that an 11-year-old boy had attempted suicde. The revelation caused him to be bullied at his school, Ornstein reports. In another example, a dental assistant had a former friend post on Facebook that she had the STD human papillomavirus.


Hack of Prisoner Phone Calls Shows Violations of Right to Counsel

Inmates forfeit their right to privacy once they are behind bars. But that doesn't extend to their constitutional right to competent and effective legal counsel.

However, a massive hack of prisoner phone records exposed that an industry leader in the prisoner telecom industry has recorded at least 14,000 conversations between inmates and attorneys. The Intercept's Jordan Smith and Micah Lee reported earlier this week that Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside correctional facilities, had promised that privileged calls wouldn't be recorded. Particularly troubling is that the recordings appear to be stored indefinitely.

It is now commonplace for telecoms to record all of an inmate's phone calls and to provide notice at the start of such calls that they will be recorded. When a detainee makes a call to an attorney, the attorney-client privilege is arguable waived. But Michael Cassidy, a professor of law at Boston College Law School, told The Intercept "the Sixth Amendment right to counsel [still] applies and the government can’t interfere with it. So even if you could argue that notifying a prisoner that their calls are being recorded negates the privilege, it doesn’t negate the Sixth Amendment right to not have the government interfere with counsel.”

Connecticut Supreme Court Rejects Release of 'Arsenic and Lace' Killer's Psychiatric Records

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that the psychiatric records of the female serial killer who was the basis of "Arsenic and Lace" cannot be released, The Connecticut Law Tribune's Christian Nolan reports.

Amy Archer Gilligan poisoned several of her boarders and was hospitalized as criminally insane. The Supreme Court held that the psychiatrist-patient privilege and Gilligan's privacy interests, even though she has been deceased for 50 years, trumped the disclosure of historical medical records held by a government agency.

California Governor Vetoes Drone Privacy Bill

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have banned drones being flown lower than 350 feet above private property without permission, Wired's Klint Finley reports. In his veto message, Brown wrote that the bill "'could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.”'

Press Groups Ask California Governor to Veto Bill Limiting Drones

A coalition of media organizations have asked California Governor Jerry Brown to veto a bill that would make it illegal to fly drones less than 350 feet above private property "'without express permission of the person or entity with the legal authority to grant access or without legal authority,'" The Hill's David McCabe reports. The coalition said the law would impede newsgathering and violate the First Amendment.

Approval of Drone Data Collection Poses Privacy Questions

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a company's request to operate 324 drones for "aerial data acquisition," which has prompted concerns from privacy advocates, Vice News' John Dyer reports. Jeramie Scott, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Dyer "'right now there are virtually no laws to address the commercial use of drones to collect massive amounts of data on the public.'"

Measure got an exemption from the FAA's current ban on commercial use of drones.

Dyer also notes that the rules the FAA are currently drafting to regulate drones don't address privacy and wouldn't mandate commercial drone operators disclose what data they're collecting.

California Legislators Approve Multiple Bills Restricting Drone Flights

The California Senate has just passed a bill that would restrict drones from being flown over wildfires, Los Angeles Times' Patrick McGreevy and Melanie Mason report. Other measures are being considered to restrict drone flights over prisons, schools and homes. For example, there is a bill on the governor's desk that would "criminalize the act of operating an unmanned aircraft system less than 350 feet above ground over private property without the consent of the property's owner."

Will Right to Be Forgotten Spread to the US?

The New York Times' Farhad Manjoo writes that the right to be forgotten--or, more specifically, the right requiring search engines to erase the online search results about European citizens in favor of their privacy--could spread to the United States. For example, a French regulator has ruled that all of Google's sites, including American versions, should grant the right to be forgotten on Google sites that are not country specific.

The United States and Europe, which have consensus on what constitutes copyrighted content, do not have the same consensus on what should be private information, Manjoo writes. But the law on which the right to be forgotten in Europe is based has no territorial restrictions.


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