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David A. Simon, Carmel Shachar & I. Glenn Cohen, Assessing Public and Private Rights of Action to Police Health Data Sharing, in The Law and Ethics of Data Sharing in Health Sciences (Marcelo Corrales Compagnucci, Timo Minssen, Mark Fenwick et al. eds., 2024).

Abstract: Data is an integral part of healthcare delivery. A growth in digital technologies has produced large swaths of health data that contain individuals’ personal, and often sensitive, information. A key question for policymakers is how to regulate the collection, storage, sharing, and disclosure of this information. In this chapter, the authors evaluate two different types of regulatory enforcement mechanisms: public rights of action (where the government sues) and private rights of action (where private persons sue). They use a recent case to illustrate the advantages and drawbacks of private rights of action in health data privacy cases, and then use this analysis to contrast them with public rights of action. Their analysis suggests that public and private rights of action should be viewed as complementary regulatory tools, rather than competing alternatives. In short, both public and private rights of action have important roles in regulating health data. To ensure private rights are effective regulatory tools, policy makers should pay particular attention to how those rights of action are designed and implemented.