U of Cincinnati students sue, end automatic sharing of their data with health system

Citing privacy concerns, the University of Cincinnati recently walked back its plan to share students' private information with UCHealth to expedite the COVID-19 vaccination process, Fox 19 News reports. 

Three university students sought a temporary injunction to stop the school from sharing records, which included Social Security numbers, with the Cincinnati-based health system, according to the April 5 report. The lawsuit came after the university's vice president of student affairs emailed "most if not all of the students" April 2 regarding the ability to obtain vaccinations, according to the lawsuit. 

"She sent this email on Good Friday, giving them the Easter holiday weekend by close of business today to opt out, not opt in. Assuming they saw the email, they read the email, etc.,” attorney Curt Hartman told the network. "The bottom line is state law doesn’t allow them to do it. COVID-19 is not an excuse to ignore the law." 

The students sued individually and on behalf of all others for the spring semester who did not knowingly and voluntarily consent to their personal data being shared with UC Health or any other person or entity other than the purpose of what the university initially obtained it for. 

On April 5, a university spokesperson described its agreement with UC Health, which is arranging dedicated doses of COVID-19 vaccine specifically for students, and its new course of action: 

"In order to more easily allow students to take this vaccine opportunity, UC originally hoped to expedite data-sharing with UC Health and sent all students a notice letter last week. However, given data privacy concerns, UC will now ask students interested in this vaccine opportunity to opt in and provide their consent to UC to share their necessary personal information with UC Health." 


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