How Can the EEOC Guarantee Personal Data Will Stay Confidential

June 29th, 2015 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

As I have mentioned before, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has bought the platitude that personal data acquired via a health risk assessment or during an employer wellness program will be protected from disclosure that could be adverse to the employee.  Seemingly blissfully ignorant about the pervasive disclosure of personal data, whether from the government itself or the private sector, the EEOC cannot guarantee that personal data can be protected from unauthorized disclosure. Today, an article in the New York Times reveals that websites and mobile phone apps most frequently used have ‘privacy’ policies which allow for the sale of personal data during mergers, bankruptcy, asset sale or other commercial transaction. The articles states, “Sites, apps, data brokers and marketing analytics firms are gathering more and more details about people’s personal lives – from their social connections and health concerns to the ways they toggle between their devices…Such data can also be used to make inferences about people’s financial status, addictions, politics or religion in ways they may not want or like.” One dating service tried to sell its database of 43 million members revealing their names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos and contact information.  It would be simple for a data broker to combine such data with health risk assessment answers and data from a ‘wellness’ program, including wearable devices.