The Cordell Institute, along with WashULaw students groups Tech and Privacy Law Society and Disability Law Caucus, co-hosted two campus visitors last week to speak to students about digital data surveillance and the use of mobile health applications.

Kirk Nahra, a Partner at WilmerHale and Cordell Institute Fellow, is the co-chair of WilmerHale’s Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice and is an active author and lecturer in health care and compliance. Mr. Nahra spoke to students regarding the legal, ethical, and privacy challenges posed by mobile health data applications and also guest-lectured in Professor Neil Richards’ Information Privacy course. Discussion included concern that most health data apps are likely not covered under HIPAA, with many consumers unaware that their shared data may not remain confidential.  Balancing public health and the right to privacy will be an ongoing issue to address in the future.

Leah Fowler is Research Assistant Professor and Research Director in the Health Law & Policy Institute at The University of Houston Law Center. Professor Fowler spoke, along with representatives of Pro Choice Missouri regarding health data surveillance. Professor Fowler initiated the discussion by summarizing the research in her soon-to-be-published paper, Femtechdystopia. This paper focuses on the recent back-tracking of reproductive rights in the United States juxtaposed against forward-moving technology, specifically the implications of menstruation-tracking apps with ever-changing reproductive laws. Like mobile helath data pps generally, there are legal, ethical, and privacy concerns surrounding consumer use of these applications. Consumers may misunderstand or be misinformed about what apps are intended to do, what they actually do, and what happens to the data they collect.

The Cordell Institute was pleased to be able to bring these leading legal experts to our campus to share their scholarship firsthand with our students at the Washington University School of Law.