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What U.S. laws protect speech privacy? PDF Print E-mail
Question: What U.S. laws protect speech privacy?

Answer: A number of U.S. federal as well as state and local laws protect a citizen's right to privacy. The two most recent federal laws are called HIPAA and GLBA.

HIPAA stands for "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act." This law has two sections, a Privacy Rule and a Security Rule, and it applies to anyone who handles Personal Healthcare Information (PHI). The law was passed in 1996 and enforcement of the Privacy Rule began on April 14, 2003. This law explicitly protects speech privacy, which is referred to as "Oral Communications." Policy for enforcing this aspect of the law was drafted and then passed by the appropriate statutory authority in January 2004 (the Security and Privacy Subcommittee of a group called WEDI, or Workgroup on Electronic Data Interchange), however this policy has not been enacted yet.

GLBA stands for "Gramm Leach Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act" and it applies to anyone who handles Personal Financial Information (PFI). GLBA was passed in 1999 and enforcement began in 2003. GLBA's Privacy Rule implicitly (not explicitly) covers speech privacy, but no enforcement policy has been enacted yet. Since the Privacy Rules of HIPAA and GLBA are similar, and since HIPAA enforcement began first, it is expected that the procedures adopted for enforcemetn of HIPAA will be accepted by regulators, courts and the legal profession as "best practices" that are applicable to GLBA as well.
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