Privacy policies for health social networking sites

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Abstract

Health social networking sites (HSNS), virtual communities where users connect with each other around common problems and share relevant health data, have been increasingly adopted by medical professionals and patients. The growing use of HSNS like Sermo and PatientsLikeMe has prompted public concerns about the risks that such online data-sharing platforms pose to the privacy and security of personal health data. This paper articulates a set of privacy risks introduced by social networking in health care and presents a practical example that demonstrates how the risks might be intrinsic to some HSNS. The aim of this study is to identify and sketch the policy implications of using HSNS and how policy makers and stakeholders should elaborate upon them to protect the privacy of online health data.

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