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Public Health Information Management, Privacy and Security

Informed Consent Action Network v. National Institutes of Health


Informed Consent Action Network v. National Institutes of Health (U.S. District Court, D. Ariz., June 24, 2021): Plaintiff, the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), requested COVID-19 vaccine data from the National Institute of Health (NIH) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). NIH sent a redacted safety report to ICAN, which ICAN claimed was inadequate. Information redacted included individual personal identifiers. One of FOIA’s exemptions permits withholding “personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” The federal district court found certain redactions, including adverse event information and age, were unjustified under the exemption after balancing an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s right to information. Other redactions and NIH’s search methodology were deemed reasonable. The court thus ordered NIH to remove certain redactions and issue the revised report to ICAN. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – September 15, 2021.

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