Press Releases

DelBene Urges Trump Administration to Prioritize Privacy When Collecting Personal Health Data

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Washington, D.C., April 8, 2020 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) released the following statement in response to reports the Trump administration is considering creating a national COVID-19 surveillance system that would collect personal health data:

“We need to be strategic in how we address the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. This includes making the best decisions regarding resource allocation or when to begin relaxing social distancing efforts, all informed by data and science. It is critical that we keep personal privacy top of mind as data is collected, and I am concerned that the Trump administration has not highlighted privacy as it considers collecting personal health data in response to COVID-19.

“Federal law limits what personal medical information can be collected by the government, but the administration can override those statutes in a national crisis. COVID-19 is undoubtably a public health crisis facing our nation but I urge the Trump administration to adopt data privacy principles around anonymization, use limitations, data security, prohibiting reidentification, and destruction after the pandemic.

“Public health safety and personal data privacy are not mutually exclusive. We must find a way to manage both during this crisis.”

DelBene is the sponsor of the Information Transparency & Personal Data Control Act (H.R. 2013), which would add further protections of sensitive personal information, like personal health data that is not currently covered, and preempt existing federal privacy laws. 
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