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Another Big Blockchain Initiative Announced in Health Care Insurance Industry

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Several large health insurance companies, including Aetna, Anthem, and Healthcare Service Corporation, have announced a collaboration with PNC Bank and IBM to utilize blockchain technology to “improve transparency and interoperability in the health care industry” and “address a range of industry challenges, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, to enable secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and to maintain current and accurate provider directories.”

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FDA Expands Big Data Use with Sentinel System

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is increasing its capability to harness the power of big data – or more specifically of the “real world evidence” (RWE) – to assess the safety of medical products that are approved for the U.S. market. To that end, FDA is expanding its Sentinel System so that by the end of 2023 it would represent “a transformative, multi-purpose national data and scientific resource center for evidence generation that a wide array of stakeholders use to inform all aspects of healthcare decision making,” according to the recently released Sentinel System Five-Year Strategy.

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England’s National Health Service Long Term Plan Envisions NHS-wide Adoption of Digital Tools

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The National Health Service (NHS) oversees health services in England, and under that government’s direction sets strategic objectives for the health care system as a whole. The other constituent countries of the United Kingdom (UK) – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – similarly have their own public-health agency each. Any UK resident may obtain health services through any of these independent organizations – either for free or at a much lower price than through a private provider.

Last year, NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary.  The milestone prompted a national conversation about the role and future of that organization.  In part in response to that debate, the agency prepared and recently released “The NHS Long Term Plan,” outlining its vision for servicing public health in the next decade.   A previous strategic document, “NHS Five Year Forward View” (2014), created a foundation for the current planning by setting in motion some of the initiatives that are now being projected to be spread to the entire system.

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New Washington State Privacy Bill Incorporates Some GDPR Concepts

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A new bill, titled the “Washington Privacy Act,” was introduced in the Washington State Senate on January 18, 2019. If enacted, Washington would follow California to become the second state to adopt a comprehensive privacy law.

Similar to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the Washington bill applies to entities that conduct business in the state or produce products or services that are intentionally targeted to residents of Washington and includes similar, though not identical size triggers. For example, it would apply to businesses that 1) control or process data of 100,000 or more consumers; or 2) derive 50 percent or more of gross revenue from the sale of personal information, and process or control personal information of 25,000 or more consumers. The bill would not apply to certain data sets regulated by some federal laws, or employment records and would not apply to state or local governments.

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N.Y. Attorney General Enforces Mobile App Security Initiative, Announces Settlements with Five Companies

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In December 2018, the New York Attorney General’s Office announced settlements with five companies operating mobile apps, including Equifax and Western Union. The N.Y. Attorney General stated that the companies failed to keep sensitive information secure on their mobile apps and have agreed to implement improved security controls. The settlements came following a data privacy initiative by the Attorney General’s Office to proactively identify security vulnerabilities before consumer information is breached. As part of this effort, the Attorney General’s Office tested dozens of mobile apps that collect sensitive information.

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Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation – Illinois Supreme Court Holds That a Technical Violation of Statutory Biometric Rights is Sufficient to Bring a Claim

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On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that in order to pursue a claim for $1,000 – $5,000 in statutory damages under the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) an individual need not plead or prove more than a technical violation of the statute.  This decision opens the door to additional lawsuits under the only biometric law in the nation that allows for a private right of action.

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