• As part of the draft of a law governing workplace privacy, Germany has proposed placing restrictions on employers who want to use Facebook and other social networking sites when making hiring decisions. The bill would allow managers to search for publicly accessible information about prospective employees on the Web and to view pages on job networking sites, like LinkedIn or Xing, but would prevent the use of purely social networking sites like Facebook. With limited exceptions, the law also would prohibit companies from secretly videotaping employees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her support for the proposed law last week. The bill will now go to the Bundestag, the German Parliament, for discussion.
  • The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is rewriting rules on medical privacy to specify when doctors, hospitals, and insurers must disclose to patients that their medical records have been disclosed improperly. The revisions come after criticism from consumer groups and members of Congress who have stated that the existing rules do not adequately protect the rights of patients. HHS issued temporary rules in August 2009, and submitted final rules in May 2010 for approval by the White House Office of Management and Budget. The temporary rules stated that health care providers and insurance companies must notify patients of a privacy breach only if the breach poses “a significant risk of financial, reputational or other harm to the individual.” This provision has been the primary subject of concern for consumer advocates. Those rules now have been withdrawn to allow for further consideration. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a watchdog group, estimates that more than five million people have been affected by breaches of medical information in the last 18 months.