Federal Judge Questions OCR’s Authority to Regulate Pixels

A recent ruling by a federal judge in Illinois in a case involving the use of website tracking technologies known as pixels raises the question of whether the HHS Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) stance on forbidding their use on health providers’ websites will pass scrutiny by the courts.

The July 24 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly in a case against Rush University System for Health doesn’t definitively state that website pixels shouldn’t be regulated under HIPAA.[1]

However, the judge disputed whether the tracking technologies fall under the definition of individually identifiable health information (IIHI), saying that “the interpretation of IIHI offered by HHS in its guidance goes well beyond the meaning of what the statute can bear.”

“Coupled with the Supreme Court’s recent use of the ‘major questions’ doctrine to reject agencies’ interpretations of their own statutes, [Kennelly’s ruling] raises questions of whether the fever over website pixels and analytics on health care websites will result in much ado about nothing as federal courts weigh in,” wrote attorneys Matthew Stein and Scott Lashway of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP.[2]

This document is only available to subscribers. Please log in or purchase access.

Would you like to read this entire article?

If you already subscribe to this publication, just log in. If not, let us send you an email with a link that will allow you to read the entire article for free. Just complete the following form.

* required field