Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back

Coronavirus Tracking Must Comply with Privacy and Security Laws

Written by: Cameron G. Shilling & John Weaver

Published in NH Bar News (9/16/2020)

As attorneys and staff return to the office, law firms will be collecting sensitive health and personal information about employees, clients, vendors, and other visitors to detect coronavirus symptoms, prevent transmission of COVID-19, and track social interactions. Though federal and state law previously prohibited collection, use, and disclosure of employee health information, the pandemic has prompted regulators to permit such activities, as long as we comply with information privacy and security laws.

Because most law firms do not typically handle this type of sensitive information about these individuals, we are generally unfamiliar with the regulations that apply, and are unaware of and unprepared to implement the privacy and security controls necessary for these circumstances. The following are key steps for firms to take.

  1. Provide an appropriate written notice to individuals about the particular health and personal information collected, used, and disclosed, and the legally permissible purposes for which the firm will do so. Obtain written consent from individuals that complies with applicable privacy laws before engaging in such activities.
  2. Ensure that the collection, use, and disclosure of health and personal information is only for purposes specifically permitted by applicable privacy laws. Adopt a written policy governing these activities (or ensure the firm’s existing policy addresses this situation), and train all employees with access to such information about the policy and regulations.
  3. Notify individuals of their rights with respect to the collection, use, and disclosure of their health and personal information, such as limiting the use of the information, obtain copies of the information, and requesting that the firm destroy it. Honor and enforce those rights whenever exercised by individuals.
  4. Implement security controls appropriate to protect the sensitive nature of the information in both hard copy and electronic formats. If the firm plans to use an online application to collect and manage this information, conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure that the provider complies with privacy and security laws, and enter into an appropriate data processing agreement with the vendor.

 

As attorneys and staff return to the office, law firms need to take steps to protect both the safety of our employees, clients, and other visitors, as well as the privacy and security of the sensitive health and personal information we collect and use to do so. Working with an experienced information privacy professional to implement the foregoing steps will enable the firm to accomplish both of these important objectives.

Cam Shilling chairs and John Weaver is a member of McLane Middleton’s Information Privacy and Security Group. Founded in 2009, that team assists businesses and private clients to improve their information privacy and security compliance, and address any security incident or breach that may arise.

Integrity and trust

At McLane Middleton we establish and maintain long-standing relationships with our clients to help us better achieve their unique goals over time. This approach to building trust requires that our esteemed lawyers and professionals use their broad, in-depth knowledge and work together with integrity to ascertain sound resolutions to legal matters for their clients.

Strength in numbers

McLane Middleton is made up of more than 105 attorneys who represent a broad range of clients throughout the region, delivering customized solutions. As a firm we are recognized as having the highest legal ability rating. The firm is rated Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell and is recognized as one of the nation's leading law firms in Chambers USA. Our attorneys are distinguished leaders in their respective practice areas.

Meet Our People

Commitment and collaboration

McLane Middleton's versatile group of attorneys and paralegals become trusted authorities on each case through collaboration. We work with our clients to learn their individual needs first and foremost and, together, we develop comprehensive solutions to their specific legal matters. This approach helps us exceed our clients' expectations efficiently and effectively, client by client, case by case.

Practice Areas

A history of excellence

McLane Middleton was established in 1919 in New Hampshire, and has five offices across two states. However, deep historical roots don't allow you to become innate. Our firm is organized, technological, and knowledgeable. Our history means we are recognized. But our reputation is built on the highest quality of service and experience in very specific areas of law.

The Firm

Intelligence paired with action

Our team continuously seeks opportunities to enhance their professional development and put key learnings to action. The pursuit of further insight guides us to volunteer service opportunities, speaking engagements, and teaching roles. Our lawyers are sought after thought leaders across their industries, and recipients of leadership awards throughout the region.