FTC and HHS Warn Health Providers of Privacy Risks

Online tracking technology poses a risk to telehealth websites and mobile apps.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued a warning to hospitals and telehealth providers, regarding privacy and security risks associated with online tracking technologies on their websites or mobile apps, which may inadvertently disclose sensitive personal health data to third parties. The joint letter was sent to 130 hospital systems and telehealth providers, highlighting the risks related to tracking technologies, such as Meta/Facebook pixel and Google Analytics, which collect identifiable information without users’ knowledge.

“When consumers visit a hospital’s website or seek telehealth services, they should not have to worry that their most private and sensitive health information may be disclosed to advertisers and other unnamed, hidden third parties,” said FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine. “The FTC is again serving notice that companies need to exercise extreme caution when using online tracking technologies… we will continue doing everything in our powers to protect consumers’ health information.”

OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer also stated that patients should not have to compromise their health information privacy when using a hospital’s website. Entities not covered by HIPAA are responsible for safeguarding personal health information from unauthorized disclosure.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For HHS Office of Civil Rights Director Fontes Rainer as she collaborates on privacy protections for patients.
  • For Director Levine as he heads the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
  • For Secretary Xavier Becerra to seek God’s wisdom as he leads HHS.
  • For discernment for Lina Khan as she chairs the FTC.

Sources: Federal Trade Commission


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