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Carnegie Mellon scientist says new technologies boost bio-terrorism surveillance

SEATTLE--Society can share medical information for bio-terrorism surveillance purposes while preserving the privacy of individual medical records through technologies created by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Latanya Sweeney, who will speak at 11 a.m. Friday, February 13, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"After September 11, 2001, many Americans believe they must choose between safety and privacy," says Sweeney, the founder and director of Carnegie Mellon's Laboratory for International Data Privacy and a professor of computer science, technology and policy. "Our commercially available technologies allow medical data to be shared for bio-terrorism surveillance while providing provable assurances of privacy protection. As a result, the American public can enjoy both safety and privacy."

Sweeney's presentation will focus on "Privacert De-identification," easy-to-use automated software that de-identifies a specific dataset in accordance with the scientific de-identification provisions of the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The resulting data can be shared freely and remain useful for bio-terrorism surveillance.

"Dr. Latanya Sweeney and the Data Privacy Lab are an invaluable resource for state and local governments struggling to keep up with the requirements of the HIPAA as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and criminal history records laws," says W. Michael Tupman, deputy attorney general of the Delaware Department of Justice. "Rest assured that your data-sharing practices are consistent with federal and state law, protect individual privacy rights and reduce your litigation risk exposure."

Because of the information explosion, health information is widely available. For example, pharmacy chains maintain electronic records for billions of outpatient prescriptions. Insurance claims typically include dia
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Contact: Teresa Thomas
thomas@cmu.edu
412-268-2900
Carnegie Mellon University
13-Feb-2004


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