Saturday, March 3, 2018

Will you lose privacy protection and rights with your most sensitive data?

The right of consent, which is a cornerstone of our Minnesota Health Records Act, which gives you the ability to manage your most sensitive health data, to keep it private, where it goes, and what it can be used for is about to be taken away.  By whom?
Out of view from the public, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Business Partnership, Minnesota Council of Health Plans, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Hospital Association and some legislators are working hard to do just that. To be substituted by what is known as HIPAA, the federal law.
There has been an enormous push of cunning by special interests at the Capitol to lead some policymakers into an unseeing acceptance by business and health lobbyists assertions that HIPAA will increase their constituent's privacy protections and rights.
Telling to you straight, what the proposed legislation SF 2975 and House companion does is opposite, it guts your right of consent to release of your health records and replaces it with Code of Federal Regulations, title 45, part 164, subpart E. 
SF 2975 by Senator Pratt:

Section 1. 

Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 144.293, subdivision 2, is amended to read:

Subd. 2.

 

Patient consent to release of records.

 
A provider, or a person who receives a health records from a provider, may not release a patient's health records to a person without:

(1) a signed and dated consent from the patient or the patient's legally authorized representative authorizing the release;

(2) specific authorization in law, which includes Code of Federal Regulations, title 45, part 164, subpart E, for those entities and individuals subject to Code of Federal Regulations, title 45, part 164, subpart E; or

(3) a representation from a provider that holds a signed and dated consent from the patient authorizing the release.

My understanding is that Representative Zerwas will be the House author.
This new language, underlined, (CFR, title 45, part 164, subpart E) gives right of access to your health data to many more players that are known as covered entities and business associates without your consent and specific knowledge.  The proposal allows for more wider dissemination and access of your health data to institutions and government.
You may ask yourself, why does Mr. Neumeister care.  I have been around a long time, since late 70's, through the 2010's at the Minnesota Legislature. Have dealt with special interests at the Legislature, helped policymakers build our strong privacy protection and rights and defend those rights and protections, and will call out organizations such as those I mention in the 2nd paragraph of this post who try to do things that are not right to Minnesotans and done with slight of hand.
I still remember one of the biggest fights of my non-paid career at the Legislature.  I fought over two years to where we as Minnesotans could get access to our medical records and get copies of them. (1986-1987 sessions)  The Minnesota health industry with such notables as the Minnesota Hospital Association and Minnesota Medical Association opposed that simple right.  The same mindset it appears they have today.
Are there fixes that can be made in this area of law?  Yes, but not done in a "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" mentality that pillage the protections and rights we now have in our state law.
HIPAA sets a floor of standards of how health records are to be handled, but allows states to be more protective of your information or provides you with greater rights.  This is what Minnesota law does
Do not expect HIPAA to give you comfortable feeling of reassurance that sensitive medical data is a matter between you and your doctor, you will be deluded.  The federal regulations as proposed in this bill and others that I have seen set standards for privacy and rights where health industry, business, and government interests often prevail over the patients desire for confidentiality.  And this should NOT be.
Contact your legislator!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Off to Woodbury to talk transparency and accountability



On March 22, 2018, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a free Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury, Minnesota. The event will will run from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The R.H. Stafford Library is located at 8595 Central Park Place in Woodbury, Minnesota 55125.
Seating is limited.  RSVP by calling Public Record Media at 651-556-1381, and leaving a message with your name and contact information.
The workshop will explore how members of the public can use Minnesota's Data Practices Act to obtain government records.  Each year - in conjunction with long-time data advocate Rich Neumeister - PRM hosts FOI workshops across the state, with the aim of training people about how to use the state's data access laws for research, education, and fostering government accountability. 
PRM is hosting its March event in Woodbury in light of the city's recent appeal to the Minnesota Legislature to make changes to the Data Practices Act - including eliminating the laws' long-standing provision that allows the public to inspect data at no cost.  Under current law, public requesters have the option to review data at government agencies for free, as opposed to paying for copies of data.
The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  
Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Minnesota law enforcement held accountable with use of Tasers?

This evening I did a program on how to use the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to gain access to body camera video.  In the discussion there was a question asked, if a Taser or an energy-conducted weapon is used to stun or subdue a person is that video public?

Under current Minnesota law (13.825) substantial bodily harm is a standard that is used to allow public access to body camera video.  Therefore I made a request to the City Of Minneapolis as follows:

"Dear Mr. Carl:

Pursuant to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, I wish to review and inspect all government data documenting use of tasers (energy conducted weapons-ECW) by the Minneapolis Police Department from 2015 through July, 2017.  The request to review and inspect all government data would include, but not limited to, any body camera footage or documentation specific to the use of the ECW.

Any questions do not hesitate to call or contact me.

Regards,

Rich Neumeister"

We will see what happens.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to get bodycam video with Minnesota law

On September 11, 2017, Saint Paul-based non-profit Public Record Media (PRM) will host a Freedom of Information (FOI) workshop at the North Regional Library in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The event will be held in the library’s North Regional Meeting Room, and will run from 6:30pm-8:00pm.  The North Regional Library is located at 1315 Lowry Ave. N. in Minneapolis.
The workshop will explore how members of the public can use Minnesota’s Data Practices Act to obtain government records of interest to them.  Body camera footage will be used as an example of government data that requesters can obtain, and a discussion of issues related to body camera footage will be held.  The presentation will feature comments by Rich Neumeister, a long-time record requester and open government advocate. 
The event is free to the public. Participants are encouraged to bring ideas for their own public record requests.  RSVPs are encouraged by calling 651-556-1381, as space is limited.
Public Record Media is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that conducts public record-centered publication, legal work, and education. Since 2014, PRM has hosted public record trainings throughout the state.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mr. N goes to Washington

I have been coming to Washington DC since 1972.  When I first came to the District of Columbia, Richard Nixon was President, there were demonstrations in the streets about the war, the Vietnam War; environmental issues started to get the whole attention of Congress with the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (later in the year); Watergate had not happened yet; and J Edgar Hoover was still alive.

Man, time has gone fast.  I have come to the City to work, live, and visit over the last 45 years and still inspired and excited to be here.  But, to where I can have the most impact on policies and laws it is at the local and state level.  That is where my heart is. Yes, Mr. Neumeister has come to Washington for another time.  But the purpose is to teach people about the possibilities they can have to make a difference.  I know they can.......

Monday, December 12, 2016

Secrecy of Stingray tracking of Minnesotan's is because of ignorance, carelessness, or complicity

A step to bring more sunshine and accountability to rapid new and secret technology used by law enforcement to the public and Minnesota Legislature has fallen short.  It was more of a document of bewilderment rather than anything else.

By statute every two years the Minnesota Court Administrator's office must file a report to the Minnesota Legislature about electronic surveillance activities that law enforcement does in Minnesota.  Such detail as from previous reports indicated specifically for what crimes, what was used, and so forth.  The 2016 report which was released last month was a very abbreviated version from the ones over the past few decades.  Just compare the 2016 report with any of the others from previous years, quite a difference.  Here is the one from 2014.


What these devices do and with their software is track an individual down to within feet of their exact location.  With add-on of software could intercept content of communication between people.  It is so "secret" on these matters even today the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension refuses to release even the amount they are paying for these surveillance devices to the Harris Corporation.

The report released last month was the first one since the implementation of the new law.  There was no detail about tracking warrants, particularly, how many times the Stingray and their brothers were used and for what purposes. And the reason why?

Tracking warrants were to be unsealed after the order was no longer needed for investigative purposes. There could be extensions for continued sealing but as it was clear in the 2014 legislation, eventually it would be public and even the subject of the surveillance would be notified.  But for nought this has never happened......they all remain sealed and secret.

The promise of scrutiny by the public and Minnesota Legislature of secret law enforcement surveillance activities with use of hush-hush high-tech technology by the 2014 law has been nixed. (The law had a reporting mechanism to be a part of the every two year report, subdivision 5)

It appears that law enforcement and the Minnesota courts could be participating in a culture of secrecy either out of ignorance, carelessness, or just plain complicity in not wanting to follow the law.

For more background on this issue please check out these news pieces by the Fox News affiliate Channel 9 and done by reporter Tom Lyden:


Monday, November 28, 2016

Hennepin County Sheriff systematic destruction of emails and data

This is an email I sent off to a number of people today:

"This is a unique document attached to this email by the Sheriff of Hennepin County.  It highlights a number of reasons why to destroy emails, one being to "mitigate risk".  Could that mean finding out about questionable behavior such as their facial recognition program implementation which the public and Hennepin County Commissioners did not know about?  There other examples I know and can think of.

Another part of the policy says that emails saved for "legitimate law enforcement / business purposes.  Granted one can designate their communication any way they want......but this is not a classification for secrecy or make data not available to the public.  Important that this new designation not be used as a preventive move for people to get access to public data.

The technical destruction may happen or begin December 1st, 2016.

So why a public interest?

It appears that the Sheriff wants to obliterate the past and control what the public should have access to. (30 day destruction and by having less data to go through based on a request)

Emails have the ability to spell out rationale for policies and initiatives.  Absence of documentation on concerns and issues can hinder the public right to know, but also ability to see and understand why.

Emails can detail a trail of individuals and the appropriate ones that have been informed of a problem, situation, or responsibility. The Flint water crisis is an example that shows this through Michigan authorities release of emails.  As so happens many times the public becomes belatedly to knowledge or discover bad or questionable action done by government.  This why data such as emails matters a great deal.

Data such as emails matter in the context of financial accountability, but also of historic framework: putting together how something came about, for example, the Sheriff's facial recognition program or the social media surveillance program known as GeoFeedia that appears the agency is involved with.

Information matters, but when that data is destroyed in such a short time as the Sheriff Rich Stanek is doing, even Hennepin County, the ability of oversight and the power to take the data, a way of self-governing accountability is not achieved.

Rich Neumeister"

The link for the Hennepin County Sheriff destruction of email policy.