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Nahra Questions the “Sectoral Approach” to Privacy

May 2016

“Is the Sectoral Approach to Privacy Dead in the U.S.?” Practice chair Kirk Nahra analyzes that timely subject in an article appearing in the Bloomberg Privacy and Security Law Report.

Kirk describes U.S. regulatory history in which public policies favoring changes in health care billing systems and changes in the business scope of financial institutions gave rise to the need for privacy regulation to protest against undesired consequences of more widely spread electronic personal data. This gave rise to our present situation where some sectors are subject to extensive federal privacy regulations while others are not, thus subjecting businesses to inconsistent regulatory environments.

Kirk notes that business evolution in health care and elsewhere has produced distortions that create pressure for change. On the one hand, many firms that are not regulated under HIPAA are providing services or products that consumers use as part of their health care. On the other hand, some businesses are coming to use for health care related purposes information of types that has not traditionally been thought of as medical in nature. Thus, some now believe both that not enough types of businesses are covered and not enough types of information are covered.

Kirk forecasts that the gaps in privacy protection and inconsistencies in regulation faced by businesses soon will produce an active public policy debate concerning what interests and what information types merit protection through privacy regulations, a debate that could comprehensively reshape the future of privacy regulation in this country.

You may read Kirk’s article by clicking here.