When it comes to privacy, the Obama administration is like a distracted student with a lot on his plate.
Obama's grades, while not terrible, have fallen off somewhat for 2010 as compared with 2009, according to a report card (PDF) released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a 16-year-old public interest research organization based in Washington.
EPIC, as the organization is more commonly known (it is not related to Epic Systems Corp., the Verona, Wis.-based health information technology developer), has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain information about the federal government's warrantless wiretapping and Total Information Awareness fiber-optic-network computer surveillance programs.
In its report card this year for medical privacy, the administration has slumped to a B from an A- last year.
According to EPIC, the administration was prepared to endorse a weak data breach notification rule but backed off. That rule remains in limbo.
"HHS Secretary (Kathleen) Sibelius has expressed support for stronger patient control," the report's authors note, but "implementation of the privacy provisions in the 2009 law (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) have slowed."
Additionally, according to the report, "Privacy experts are underrepresented on key committees, and the willingness of the White House to press for strong safeguards for patients remains unclear." The authors continued: "With millions of patient records moving online, we think the White House needs to show more effort. This has been a strong subject for the administration in the past. It can be so again."