Don't get me wrong -- I think <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZk3NlF6iEQ">Chris Crocker</a> would make a crap spokesperson for HIPAA. But the medical staff of the UCLA Health System <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206904141">facing discipline or dismissal</a> for snooping in Britney Spears' medical records deserve everything coming to them.

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Don't get me wrong -- I think Chris Crocker would make a crap spokesperson for HIPAA. But the medical staff of the UCLA Health System facing discipline or dismissal for snooping in Britney Spears' medical records deserve everything coming to them.The Los Angeles Times wrote about this breach/medical voyeurism over the weekend. As if the 19 staffers on this most recent go-round weren't bad enough, the Times reported several workers were disciplined in September 2005 for looking at Spears' records after she gave birth to her first son.

A few years ago, we might have called this bad form, unethical even. But thanks to the personal privacy protections in state and federal laws, this kind of snooping is now officially illegal.

I can imagine being tempted to look. I can probably even imagine being boneheaded enough to open up unauthorized files. I can't imagine being so stupid to believe that some log file or audit trail wouldn't eventually betray my burning need to know.

Is dismissal or suspension an appropriate response? Those punishments don't really fit the crime, do they? What if the culprits were required to publish their own medical records in a couple major daily newspapers? Or maybe some community service, in which they form human shields around some celeb to confound the paparazzi?

I'm curious if you think the UCLA staff deserves more than a slap on the hand. E-mail me with your thoughts or leave a comment below.

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2008

About the Author(s)

Terry Sweeney, Contributing Editor

Terry Sweeney is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered technology, networking, and security for more than 20 years. He was part of the team that started Dark Reading and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, Crain's New York Business, Red Herring, Network World, InformationWeek and Mobile Sports Report.

In addition to information security, Sweeney has written extensively about cloud computing, wireless technologies, storage networking, and analytics. After watching successive waves of technological advancement, he still prefers to chronicle the actual application of these breakthroughs by businesses and public sector organizations.


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