Health Privacy and (Lack Of) Legal Protections In a Technology-Driven Economy 

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Volume 19, Issue 1 (Jan 2018)

Applying the perspectives of law, technology, and economics, this article explores the privacy concerns arising from the ability of search engines and web domain owners to indiscriminately track an individual’s health-related internet searches. Using the hypothetical example of a forty-year-old woman diagnosed with high cholesterol who turns to Google to begin gathering data about her condition and her treatment options, this article discusses the many ways in which technology can be used to gather, store, aggregate, and track an unsuspecting user’s health- related searches as she surfs the web for information. From an economic perspective, financial incentives abound for those who conduct business by compiling these various bits of information on consumers through their internet activities. Having laid this foundation, this article then explores what legal protections exist under current privacy law to protect computer users from such intrusions. Finding a distinct lack of protection in the law, this article concludes with a recommendation that Congress take legislative action targeted specifically at protecting such health- related inquiries.

Mystica M. Alexander, Cheryl Kirschner, Patrick A. Scholten & David J. Yates, Health Privacy and (Lack Of) Legal Protections In a Technology-Driven Economy, 19 N.C.J.L. & Tech. 1 (2017), available at

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