Compliance Management, Government Regulations

Asbestos bill would expose victims’ personal data, medical histories

A group of privacy and public interest organizations are petitioning against a bill that attempts to prevent fraud in asbestos lawsuits.

The groups say the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act would cause an increase incidents of identity theft targeting asbestos victims.

The draft legislation could receive a House vote Thursday. The bill would establish trusts tasked with creating quarterly public reports “listing the name and exposure history of those who have filed a claim with such trust and any payments made to claimants and the basis for such payments.”

The campaign is led by Washington, DC-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund, which sent a letter signed by a coalition that includes Essential Information, Government Accountability Project, Patient Privacy Rights, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, TURN-The Utility Reform Network and World Privacy Forum to the cyber caucus.

The bill would “force the online disclosure of sensitive personal information of sick and dying asbestos victims seeking compensation for their illnesses,” the letter stated. “Disclosure would include the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, work and medical histories, full name and birth year, among other details, on a publicly accessible website anyone with access to a computer can view and download.”

Last June American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Association of the U.S. Navy wrote to Congressional leaders opposing the bill, and last October, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Educational Association and AFSCME sent a letter to Congress opposing the legislation.

The proposed FACT Act, sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), was approved by the Judiciary Committee in November 2015.

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