Protections for reproductive health data are starting to click

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Planned Parenthood’s website contained marketing trackers, but the organization will remove them for fear that users’ health data could be compromised. The Flo period tracker app also prepares an anonymous mode to better cover user privacy. The Department of Health and Human Services has separately clarified how HIPAA should and should not play into disclosing patient data to law enforcement.

The Washington Post: Planned Parenthood Suspends Marketing Trackers on Abortion Search Pages

Planned Parenthood said it would remove marketing trackers on its abortion-related search pages and that no protected health information has been breached so far. The comments came after The Washington Post on Wednesday reported findings from Lockdown Privacy, the maker of an app that blocks online trackers, showing that when visitors used the website’s search function to find a provider of abortion and start scheduling a date, Planned Parenthood was sharing data about those actions with third-party tracking companies, including Google, Facebook, and TikTok. (Hunger, 6/30)

NPR: Rules-tracking app Flo is developing ‘anonymous mode’ to ease post-Roe privacy concerns

“Flo will always be an advocate for women’s health, and that includes providing our users with full control over their data,” Susanne Schumacher, data protection officer for Flo, said in a statement sent to NPR. “Flo will never share or sell user data, and only collects data when we have a legal basis to do so and when our users have given informed consent. All data we collect is fully encrypted, and that will never change.” (Kilpatrick, 6/30)

Modern healthcare: HHS releases HIPAA guidelines after abortion ruling

Providers should not cite the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as a reason for disclosing a patient’s abortion plan to law enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. social. Under HIPAA, healthcare providers are permitted to release, including to law enforcement, a patient’s medical information if they believe it is necessary to prevent or mitigate a “serious threat.” and imminent” for health or safety. (Kim Cohen, 6/30)

NBC News: After Roe, “camping” became code for abortions. Campaigners say it can put people at risk

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, social media has been flooded with posts from people offering to take people “camping” — coded language to help people seeking out-of-state abortions. … A code is not a code “if you tell everyone what the code is,” said Kari Nixon, an assistant professor of English at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., who studies the medical humanities. “There seems to be this sense of not really taking it seriously enough. (Chanté and Goggin, 6/30)

Stat: Abortion decision sparks Health Tech’s Cambridge Analytica moment

In 2018, the tech industry found itself in the spotlight amid a scandal involving a company called Cambridge Analytica, which collected and used the data of millions of Facebook users, apparently without their consent. It caused a public outcry, congressional hearings, a $5 billion fine, and permanently changed the narrative about how social media companies use data. Following a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, health data privacy gets its own Cambridge Analytica moment. (Aguilar, 6/30)

In related news from Washington State –

CNN: Washington State Police Won’t Comply With Abortion-Related Information Requests From Out-of-State Agencies, Governor Says

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee issued a directive on Thursday that prohibits state police from cooperating with out-of-state abortion-related investigative requests in their efforts to make the state a “sanctuary” for those seeking the services. (Sarisohn, 7/1)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

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