Privacy in the Digital Age: Implications for Clinical Practice




ADrummond4Presenter: Dr. Aaron Drummond is a cognitive psychologist with a particular interest in the way that humans and computers interact.  Dr. Drummond’s specific research interests include the psychological effects of digital media use, privacy in the digital age, and the use of technology to aid low intensity CBT interventions for mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Overview: In 2012, privacy breaches exposed the confidential health data of 22.5 million U.S. citizens.  Ensuing the privacy of clients is essential in clinical psychology, and a task that has become increasingly complex as technology has evolved.  Many current professional guidelines for clinical practice do not consider issues pertaining to potential privacy breaches from sources such as human error, malicious acts, metadata, and surveillance (e.g. APA, 2007, APS, 2013, BPS 2011).  By reviewing potential sources of privacy breaches arising from electronic storage and communications use, key areas that might result in privacy breaches are identified – e.g. human error, malicious acts.  We conclude with best practice recommendations regarding electronic storage and communication, software choices, and spyware removal designed to minimize privacy risk in mental health care.  These recommendations need to be regularly reviewed to continue to minimize the risk of privacy-related breaches in the context of ongoing technological development. Objectives: (1) Describe the major sources of electronic privacy breaches (2) Select appropriate electronic communication tools to minimize the risk of electronic privacy breaches; (3) Prepare an action plan to minimize the risk of electronic privacy breaches in clinical practice.