A new bill could protect Americans’ health and location data

The $200B data broker industry profits by selling people’s data.

That data includes everything from contact info and demographics to personal interests and health history.

If passed, a new bill — the Health and Location Data Protection Act — would limit the sale of medical and location data in the US.

What would it do?

Ban companies from selling or transferring medical and location info with a few HIPAA-compliant exceptions.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, would also give the FTC $1B to enforce regulations and allow people to sue if they’re violated, according to The Hill.

Looking deeper…

Warren has linked the bill to Roe v. Wade — the landmark case that secured constitutional abortion rights in the US — and the possibility that SCOTUS could overturn it.

Motherboard recently reported on data brokers selling the location data of those who’d visited clinics that provide abortions, including how long they were there, and where they went before and after.

“This is how you dox someone traveling across state lines for abortions — how you dox clinics providing this service,” Zach Edwards, a cybersecurity researcher, said.

Data brokers have long dealt in sensitive info

In a 2013 congressional hearing, World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon testified that brokers maintain “millions” of lists, including of people with mental health issues, cancer, and HIV — even people who’ve made late payments.

And this isn’t the only concern lawmakers have had about Americans’ data and how it’s used.

Sen. Ron Wyden, another backer of this bill, previously introduced the Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act, which would prevent brokers from selling data to law enforcement or other government agencies without a warrant.

BTW: Feeling private? Here’s a big list of opt-out guides to remove yourself from various data brokers’ lists.

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