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Comparing eHealth Privacy Initiatives

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Abstract:

Many administrators in the private sector have established core principles for health Web sites to protect consumer privacy and autonomy. In fact, many of these initiatives have adapted the Federal Trade Commission's Code of Fair Information Practice Principles and developed standards and guidelines for protecting the privacy of health information online. These self-regulatory efforts differ in focus and comprehensiveness; some offer general principles, while others provide detailed rules and examples to assist sites in implementing the standards. Because there is a range of self-regulatory standards and programs available to health Web sites, consumers may find it difficult to determine the distinguishing features of each program and may be confused by the various symbols and seals that appear on different sites. This report examines these self-regulatory efforts and compares their strengths and weaknesses.