Privacy & Health

Created by Randy Dryer on May 23, 2016 1973

Privacy is a complex, malleable and flexible concept that is influenced by evolving social, political, economic, technological and ethical factors.  Privacy means different things to different people at different periods of time.  It is not a concept that is susceptible to a simple description or definition.   Consequently, there are many different, sometimes competing, definitions of privacy and scholars and courts have struggled to find a common understanding and application of the term.  Privacy law has become an umbrella term that encompasses physical and mental privacy (the so called “right to be left alone”), informational privacy (which concerns the collection, use, protection and regulation of personal information), decisional privacy (which concerns the freedom to make decisions about one’s body, family, and personal life without government interference), associational privacy (which implicates access and exclusion issues), confidential and proprietary privacy (which concerns ownership,  control and contractual rights) and anonymity (which shields a person from unwanted attention).

In the U.S., the legal bases for the enforcement of privacy rights, however defined, is an interrelated hodgepodge of tort common law, federal and state constitutional law, federal and state statutory law, evidentiary privileges, professional ethical rules and consensual or contractual agreements.  The word “privacy” appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, but a right of privacy has been inferred from numerous provisions of the Constitution, including the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Because privacy rights are best understood contextually, we have divided the discussion in to several broad subject matter categories.  This section focusses on privacy and health. 

Perhaps no other area is as important in privacy rights as an individual's medical records. At the federal level, medical re...

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Written by Vikrant Deshmukh on July 21, 2016 0 2388
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