by Victor E. Schwartz, Phil Goldberg & Christopher E. Appel
Washington Legal Foundation
August 02, 2012
For decades, Congress and the federal judiciary, led by the Supreme Court of the United States, have expressed concern over unwanted disclosures of personal data or private health information. These privacy concerns have been amplified in today’s Internet-driven age, with stories regularly emerging of highly personal information becoming at risk due to leaks and computer hackings, as well as concerns some policy makers have over legitimate endeavors related to tailored Internet marketing. Yet, some federal agencies seemingly cast these concerns aside when they believe forcing disclosure of such personal, private records will serve their purposes. Such is the case with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which has issued a rule requiring mine operators to turn over personal medical records of their employees whenever MSHA seeks this information in auditing a mine’s records.