Senators Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Mazie Hirono have recently proposed the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act to expand protection for Americans’ health data privacy. This bill intends to stop companies from taking advantage of identifiable health data for advertising, limit companies from collecting or utilizing personal health information with no permission from the user, and ensure that customers have better access to and control over their health records.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about the misuse of personal health information by data brokers and tech firms. Recent reports have raised alarm over the potential misuse of location data that tech companies collect and sell, with lawmakers emphasizing their worries that data brokers and tech firms are profiting from the confidential health and location data of millions of people in America, including those who are trying to access reproductive health care services.
The UPHOLD Privacy Act seeks to ban the use of personally identifiable health data collected from any source, including users, medical centers, wearable fitness trackers, and web browsing histories for commercial advertising. However, the restrictions would not apply to public health campaigns such as college vaccination campaigns. The act would also impose additional data minimization and disclosure restrictions on companies’ use of personal health data without an individual user’s consent and prohibit the sale of precise location data to and by data brokers.
The proposed legislation seeks to protect consumers’ confidential information and the right to privacy, especially in the wake of Republican attempts to prohibit and criminalize reproductive health service across the country.The senators hope that the act will provide a framework for protecting the sensitive health data of millions of Americans while giving consumers greater control over how their personal information is used.
Senator Klobuchar has been a prominent voice in protecting consumer privacy, especially in regards to sensitive health data. In January, Klobuchar and several other senators requested that three telehealth companies work to secure their patients’ confidential health records after reports indicated that these online health companies were transmitting and exchanging customers’ individual data with social networking websites for advertising purposes. Nearly five months later in May 2022, Klobuchar and Senator Tammy Baldwin implored the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure data safety for women who are looking for reproductive health care.
The UPHOLD Privacy Act would provide a vital framework for protecting consumer privacy and preventing companies from misusing sensitive health data. If passed, it would help safeguard the privacy of millions of Americans and provide greater transparency and control over how their personal information is used. As such, it represents a significant step forward in the ongoing effort to protect consumers’ privacy and ensure that individuals have the right to control their personal information.