Kaiser adds to its lawsuit against blogger
posted by:Jennifer Manning // 08:30 AM // March 19, 2005 // TechLife
Kaiser Permanente is stepping up its campaign against a Berkeley woman and former employee who posted links to patient information on her blog, filing new motions in an existing lawsuit that accuse her of invasion of privacy and breaking a confidentiality agreement.
According to Kaiser's lawsuit, the employee also tried to sell proprietary Kaiser information on eBay in June 2004.
first, I think that the blogger handled this in a very immature way: two wrongs do not make a right, and there maybe jail time for knowingly violating HIPAA.
I think if there was a security problem, and if the patients information was at risk for exposure, then this issue should of gone to the State's Ombundmans office.
Unfortuately, I do not think that state agencies have the ability to evaluate such complaints at the current time, and hence the bloggers fustration to make known a violation by commiting an act of public defiance.
If the employee was fired for whistle blowing, then that becomes an OSHA violation and the "disgruntled diva" would have had a better case. If the issue could not have been addressed on the state level, then there are the ACLU and the EFF, and many other groups that could have helped this person.
There is nothing wrong about blogging there is a problem with Kaiser Permanente. If patients had complaints, blogging the complaints are more tricky: persons could be hit with Slander suites if the complaints where not completely factual. Gag orders could also happen if the complaints became law suites: we are all familiar with legal advertising. It is a form of not only building a large case for settlement, but also a system to get at the bigger picture to figure out who wronged who.
Bloggers who participate with Kaiser, could build a case action suite that they collectively had their info not secure do to wrongful and neglegent acts by the company they have entrusted to keep things private. Sort of inverse advertisment, via the blog and search engine paradigm that is evolving.
Confidentiality agreements can be reviewed by a Judge and considered evidence if there is due cause. Clinical Sousveillance data based upon an open source volunteering of information, that is factual, and based on specific outcomes, can help bring about a sampling of acts by a large organization, and delineate the behind the scene intent of malbenevolent acts.
Its not nice to demonstrate to persons that they have no privacy, and then violate it more. There must of been a better way for this blogger in question.
The world is not perfect, but and info sometimes escapes into the datasphere: we need to think about some of the things Don Knuth spoke about when considering Peter 3:16 (not from a religious point of view)
The Greek word Sythesis is mentioned in this quote and the problems of translating it. Synthesis can mean both good will, and consciousnesss: what ones intent is, will be manifest via there actions.
So in my opinion, if the intent was to protect privacy, it should not of been vy violating: but reporting it falls under the guidlines of whisle blowing and is protected by OSHA rules in the USA. When there is an industrial problem, the rights of the many out way the rights of the institution, and confidentiality agreements are only enforceble, when both parties are acting with good intent. So the freedom of speech aspect of this issue becomes more relavent, as the danger of losing personal privacy becomes more acute.
Posted by: stefanos pantagis at March 19, 2005 05:50 PM
I'd just like to clarify a couple of facts here.
First, I found and linked to the Systems Diagrams over a year after I lost my job at Kaiser. I've gone so far as linking to my termination letter on my blog to show that I was not terminated for committing any sort of security breach.
As for my own problems with Kaiser, I pursued them the quiet "right" way for a year. A Kaiser employee had to terrorize me in my own home before I finally tried to stand up for myself. Kaiser's wrong would have remained a wrong if I had done nothing: I was not receiving help from any of the institutions of society that are supposed to help in such matters.
It is true, however, that it was very difficult to report the Systems Diagrams once I found them. It took me a while just to figure out the Office of Civil Rights was the right way to approach it. The Office of Civil Rights took four months just to *start* their investigation - and Kaiser did not respond to it honestly since they didn't research who set up the web site I found. I've never heard of the State's Omsbudsman's Office, so obviously part of the problem is that normal people don't know the intricacies of government agencies.
In terms of my legal options, it's not as simple as you think. The EFF is one of the many organizations I've talked to over the last two weeks. They simply don't have the resources to help me right now. As for the ACLU - I could use help just contacting them. I can't get through to the San Francisco Office on the phone, and they haven't responded to my faxes. As for other organizations and private attorneys - many are interested in my situation. However, so far they all either don't have the right qualifications, have a conflict of interest because they have worked for Kaiser, or they think the case would be too expensive to pursue. It's a myth that there a are always legal resources out there or a pro bono attorney will just appear to see that justice is done. I'm still working on it though.
In the mean time, I'm trying to remain as open as possible to discussion. I haven't tampered with my blog or tried to hide anything that's gone on over the last two years. I'm happy to answer questions from anyone. Because the press has been confused about the timeline and Kaiser has deliberately tried to confuse issues to make it look like I stole patient data, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around.
I've told the truth about Kaiser, and hopefully I won't be punished for that (or further punished, since I've already been put through the wringer). Kaiser should be more worried about a defamation suit from me since they have been pushing on the press the idea that I stole patient data as an employee, and that I was the one who originally posted it. Kaiser's spokesman knows it's a lie: he has the evidence I gave the Kaiser lawyers. Until I have an attorney, I can't get Kaiser to issue retractions or even get them to stop their current campaign. Hopefully in the end, though, Kaiser will look worse for trying to frame me.
Posted by: disgruntled at April 2, 2005 11:38 AM