Google’s Privacy Sandbox and HIPAA

Third party cookies on a phone and a cookie

Learn what Google’s Privacy Sandbox is, how it will impact your healthcare marketing and if the change in third-party data will impact HIPAA.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a set of proposals for improving privacy on the web by restricting access to user data. The proposals are aimed at reducing the reliance on third-party cookies, which are small pieces of data used by advertisers and other organizations to track users’ online activity and serve targeted ads. The Privacy Sandbox proposals include various technical solutions, such as the creation of “privacy-preserving APIs” that would allow advertisers to target ads without accessing users’ personal data.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are small text files that are placed on a user’s device by a website other than the one the user is visiting. These cookies are used to track the user’s activities across different websites and to deliver targeted advertisements.

Third-party cookies and privacy

There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about the potential for third-party cookies to be phased out or replaced with more privacy-conscious alternatives. In January 2020, Google announced that it plans to phase out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within the next two years. This move is part of a broader effort by Google to increase privacy for users and to provide more transparency about how user data is collected and used. Other browser vendors, such as Mozilla and Apple, have also taken steps to block or limit the use of third-party cookies.

See more: How do I know when my HIPAA privacy obligation for email encryption ends?

When are third-party cookies going away?

It is not yet clear exactly when third-party cookies will go away, but it seems likely that they will continue to be phased out over the next few years as more privacy-conscious alternatives are developed and adopted. It is a wise idea to plan for third-party free marketing efforts by 2024.

See more: Can cookies be used in a HIPAA compliant manner?

How does the Privacy Sandbox proposal relate to HIPAA?

The Privacy Sandbox proposals are not specifically related to HIPAA and do not have any direct impact on HIPAA compliance. However, the Privacy Sandbox proposals may have implications for how healthcare organizations use web-based technologies to collect and process ePHI (electronic protected health information), and HIPAA covered entities should consider these implications when using such technologies.

For example, if the Privacy Sandbox proposals are implemented and third-party cookies are restricted, HIPAA covered entities may need to find alternative ways to track and analyze ePHI in order to comply with HIPAA regulations. Additionally, HIPAA covered entities may need to ensure that any alternative technologies they use to track and analyze ePHI comply with HIPAA requirements for the protection of sensitive patient data.

See more: HIPAA compliant email: The definitive guide

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About the author

Anne-Marie Sullivan

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