This post is part of a post series where we round up some of the interesting news and resources we’re finding.For a PDF version of this post, and for archived issues of previous posts, click here.
We became quite busy after the last update, so we’re a bit backlogged. We are catching up on developments late last year and we have a lot of material. We will release the next issue soon, as there is too much material to fit into this issue.
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A PC World article discusses a new study by Forrester that reveals that internal threats are the “leading cause” of data breaches. The survey involved companies in Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US. The study revealed that 36% of breaches involve “inadvertent misuse of data by employees.”
According to the article, the study also indicated that “only 42 percent of the North American and European small and midsize business workforce surveyed had received training on how to remain secure at work, while only 57 percent say that they’re even aware of their organization’s current security policies.” The article quotes Heidi Shey, the study’s author, who says: “People don’t know what they don’t know. You’ve got to give them some kind of guidance and guard rails to work with.”
In 2012, the media erupted with news about employers demanding employees provide them with their social media passwords so the employers could access their accounts. This news took many people by surprise, and it set off a firestorm of public outrage. It even sparked a significant legislative response in the states.
I thought that the practice of demanding passwords was so outrageous that it couldn’t be very common. What kind of company or organization would actually do this? I thought it was a fringe practice done by a few small companies without much awareness of privacy law.
The frequent use of social media by employees has created a new domain of risk for employers – employees who reveal confidential or sensitive information or who otherwise say things that damage their institution’s reputation or create strife with their colleagues.
For example, in the healthcare context, in a number of widely-publicized incidents, employees revealed confidential information about patients on their blogs and social network profiles. For example, according to a Boston Globe story, an emergency room physician posted data online about the patient. The physician thought that it was safe to post about as long as she did not include the patient’s name. But others could identify the patient. There are numerous recent cases where hospital staff have posted photos and other information about patients online.