Fast Talk: Privacy Warrior

Dr. Deborah Peel

Founder and President, Patient Privacy Rights
Austin, Texas

Dr. Deborah Peel, 56, a practicing psychiatrist, founded Patient Privacy Rights, a consumer watchdog organization. She began fighting for medical privacy in 1993 after President Clinton proposed that every doctor-patient encounter be entered into a database.

“Americans should be terrified. We have no control over our electronic health information. Private corporations interested in data mining, not privacy protection, built our system. If Congress passes its bill allowing for an electronic health system, we’ll be talking about a mammoth amount of information hemorrhaging around the globe. And like Paris Hilton’s sex video, it will live forever in cyberspace.

The threat is not really cybercrime. You don’t need to hack in to get this stuff. Our private information is already for sale. Exposed health data could become the most prevalent cause of discrimination. In 200 years of judicial decisions, the most strongly held privacy rights are health related. All that is now disintegrating.”