Article Title

Citizen Science: The Law and Ethics of Public Access to Medical Big Data


Sharona Hoffman

First Page



Patient-related medical information is becoming increasingly available on the Internet, spurred by government open data policies and private sector data sharing initiatives. Websites such as HealthData.gov, GenBank, and PatientsLikeMe allow members of the public to access a wealth of health information. As the medical information terrain quickly changes, the legal system must not lag behind. This Article provides a base on which to build a coherent health data policy. It canvasses emergent data troves and wrestles with their legal and ethical ramifications. Publicly accessible medical data have the potential to yield numerous benefits, including scientific discoveries, cost savings, new patient support tools, improved healthcare quality, greater government transparency, and public education. At the same time, the availability of electronic personal health information that can be mined by any Internet user raises concerns related to privacy, discrimination, erroneous research findings, and litigation. This Article analyzes the benefits and risks of health data sharing and proposes balanced legislative, regulatory, and policy modifications to guide data disclosure and use.

This document is currently not available here.