Editor's Note: It's Time To Get Down To The Business Of Privacy
Whew! Ninety-three--that's the number of pages in the PDF file I downloaded from the Federal Register last week detailing the final rule from the Department of Health and Human Services for privacy standards for health information. That's a lot for health-care and insurance companies to digest, and it's only one component of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's also a lot for consumers to chew over. But Marty Abrahms gives the department a lot of credit. Not only is it providing very detailed specifications, he says, it's also providing a summary that's more palatable. That's a concept that Abrahms, former chief privacy officer at Experian, who now works for law firm Hunton & Williams, and others are trying to convince companies to adopt. Already, the folks at Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, and others are working on shorter, friendlier, less legal mumbo-jumbo types of statements. It needs to be something consumers can glance at and compare with others, he says. I couldn't agree more. Last summer, my mailbox was deluged with privacy statements from banks and credit-card companies (those complying with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), but somehow they always ended up in the "to read later" pile. It's one of those piles that, if it sits there long enough and I haven't touched it, can go into the recycling bin without much thought.
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