Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Open Meetings vs. Privacy

NIH recently posted a series of notices of meetings.
* Closed to the public.

Of those meetings closed to the public, seven of them include this notice:

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the 
provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 
U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could 
disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as 
patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals 
associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would 
constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

While this notice clearly identifies "individuals associated with ... grant applications," as electronic health records, and all the personal information they contain, become ever more pervasive in healthcare, what would stop an agency from simply closing a meeting involving health IT because of a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy"?

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