Despite the technology and data collection sectors rapidly growing over the past few decades, laws protecting consumers in these spaces have barely expanded, if at all. The first, and only, comprehensive federal data privacy regulation was passed in 1974, roughly ten years before the first Mac computer was invented. Since then, we’ve seen a few more federal laws put in place to protect consumer data and even some states take actions into their own hands, but we have yet to see another comprehensive law from the federal government. This begs the question, will the federal government finally enact new data privacy laws for the country as a whole to adhere to, or will they continue to let states take the reins forcing companies to comply with multiple laws at once?
When you think of the most valuable commodity in the world today, you might automatically think of money, however, personal data has now become one of the most valuable forms of currency today. The vast amounts of personal data available have made it increasingly valuable to companies who know how to use it to their advantage. The means of receiving this data are sometimes questionable, and up until recently, often unregulated, leading to companies using unethical methods to get their hands on this valuable data. The US is starting to follow the rest of the world and develop extensive data privacy laws that cover more than just medical information to ensure that consumers are protected, but there’s still lots of disagreements surrounding how and what should be protected in the US.
As businesses begin to reopen and resume operations after the pandemic, there are discussions surrounding possible vaccine passports and the concerns protecting individuals’ personal health information. COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more available within the country and more Americans feel safe to resume their normal lives. Many states and businesses are contemplating the idea of making vaccine passports a requirement for travel and large events. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) was created to protect personal health information. As other countries are beginning to require proof of vaccination, many are contemplating whether vaccine passports are permitted by HIPAA or if the requirement will actually violate the federal health privacy law.