National Security and Medical Information
Electronic Frontier Foundation (no date)
When exploring medical privacy issues, it's very useful to have an overview of the laws that affect control and privacy of medical information. We encourage you to read our legal overview.
The government has many options for obtaining your medical records on the grounds of national security. And if your medical records are swept up in a national security investigation, you likely won't be asked to consent and potentially won't ever know your medical records were accessed.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule that went into effect in 2003 included a national security exception that permits doctors, hospitals, and any other "covered entity" to disclose individual health information "to authorized federal officials for the conduct of lawful intelligence, counter-intelligence, and other national security activities authorized by the National Security Act." This exception overrides the normal requirement that your authorization is needed before your medical information can be disclosed for anything other than your treatment, bill payment, or your health care provider’s business operations.
This national security exception appears to allow covered entities to disclose health records, at their own discretion, to any federal agency that plays a role in intelligence, counter-intelligence, and national security activities. This includes but isn't limited to the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA.
For example, a hospital could disclose any or all of the patient medical records in its possession to the NSA on the hospital’s own initiative, and could even allow the NSA or other federal agencies to access the hospital’s health record system on a permanent, ongoing basis. This could be done without a court order, without any procedural or substantive protections or barriers, and even without any request from the agency. . . .
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Disclaimer: Targeted America is not a law firm. The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter.