Urged to Maintain Privacy
Companies face many snares, some of which are hidden, when protecting sensitive information and maintaining security, said lawyers today addressing the Massachusetts Software and Internet Council. Security and privacy issues are mixed together, and companies must understand that their security and ability to maintain privacy are only as good as those of others who have access to their systems.
"I was amused to read in the paper that the Harvard Medical School was giving PalmPilots out to all its medical students," said David S. Szabo, a lawyer at Boston firm Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP. "This is a radioactive device filled with medical data."
Szabo said that it's impossible to guessthe school's liability if one of the devices were lost or stolen. Privacy rules laid out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act say such data has to be protected. The question, he said, then arises: What would constitute protection in such a case?
Donna Sherry, a lawyer at Boston-based Goodwin Procter LLP, said companies need to keep liability in mind when they send private information via e-mail. All the lawyers at the conference said they consider e-mail open to privacy and security risks, which points to the need for clear policies for e-mail and Internet usage.
"When you send an e-mail, it goes 20 different places and it is stored forever," said Nicholas M. Gess, a lawyer at Boston-based Bingham Dana LLP.
Szabo advised users to consider who will read the e-mail before sending one containing sensitive information.
Sherry cited a case in which an information services manager at a small, privately held company was reading incoming e-mail from a larger, publicly held company that was looking into buying it. The manager found the details of the sale and other confidential business information and told his colleagues what he had learned. If the information had gone public, there could have been wider consequences, including problems with the Securities and Exchange Commission, she said.
- Tue, 2013-05-21 00:02
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