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The brewing battle over data surveillance


Health privacy advocates are urging patients to respond to the Federal Trade Commission’s request for public comment on the need for new rules to protect consumers against commercial data surveillance. Health care came up often during an FTC press conference last week to lay out the process for making new rules and why “commercial surveillance” has become a focus for the agency. “In a growing number of spheres…consumers are subject to information collection, often without their knowledge or control,” said Sam Levine, director of the agency’s bureau of consumer protection. He noted, however, that the agency needs to demonstrate that a certain practice is “unfair or deceptive and is prevalent in the marketplace” before a rule could be issued — and that’s where the public comments come in.

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