February 26, 2021

Cassidy, Rosen Bill Mends Major Hole in Health Data Privacy Protections

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) reintroduced legislation to prevent data mining of Americans’ personal health data stored on wearable personal devices, such as smartwatches.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects all interactions between patients and their doctors. HIPAA does not protect health data recorded on personal devices which puts this data at significant potential risk.

The Stop Marketing And Revealing the Wearables And Trackers Consumer Health Data Act (Smartwatch Data Act) defines what data is protected under the law. The bill would prevent entities that collect consumer health information from transferring, selling, sharing or allowing access to consumer health information or any individually identifiable consumer health information collected on personal health trackers. Violations of the new act would be enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services in the same manner the department enforces HIPAA.

“Smartwatches and wearable tech can collect an amazing amount of data about your health with or without your knowledge. The Smartwatch Act prevents big tech from collecting or selling data without the user’s consent. Americans should always know their health information is secure,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“While we enjoy the convenience of technological advancements brought on by apps and wearable devices, we must not forget the potential privacy risks that these devices pose,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m proud to help lead this important bipartisan piece of legislation that will strengthen privacy rights and protect the most sensitive pieces of health care information collected by apps and wearables from being sold or shared without the consumer’s consent.”