FTC Chair Advises IT Firms To Protect Health Data on Devices

January 8, 2015 in News

On Tuesday, Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez offered advice about data security to manufacturers of devices that hold personal health information, MedCity News reports (Baum, MedCity News, 1/7).

Ramirez’s speech comes ahead of a soon-to-be-released FTC report about privacy and security in the era of the Internet, according to the New York Times‘ “Bits” (Joachim, “Bits,” New York Times, 1/6).

Details of Ramirez’s Speech

In her speech, Ramirez noted challenges to consumer privacy and security, including:

  • Consequences of unexpected data use;
  • Heightened security risks; and
  • Ubiquitous data collection (Bowman, FierceHealthIT, 1/7).

To respond to the challenges, Ramirez advised companies to:

  • Be more attentive to data minimization by collecting only necessary data and deleting data permanently when they are no longer needed;
  • Implement “privacy by design,” or building privacy safeguards into devices; and
  • Increase transparency about data use and make terms of use more clear.

According to “Bits,” Ramirez’s remarks about “privacy by design” appeared to be aimed at startups, which are making the majority of new devices. She compared such companies with traditional hardware and software developers, saying newer firms “have not spent decades thinking about how to secure their products and services from hackers” (“Bits,” New York Times, 1/6).

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