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The VA has issued a guide to ethical considerations for the use of veterans’ personal information both internally and by external parties to whom the department might provide it, including for covid-19 response purposes.

“While the regulatory and policy framework that governs data access and use sets important standards about what is required with respect to data access and use, it does not always provide definitive guidance about how VA should manage access or use of Veteran data when regulation and policy permit organizational discretion,” said the guidance. https://www.oit.va.gov/about/ethical-data-use.

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Principles include that: the primary goal for use of veteran data is for the good of veterans; veteran data should be used in a manner that ensures equity to veterans; the sharing of veteran data should be based on the veteran’s meaningful choice; and access to and exchange of veteran data should be transparent and consistent.

Also: de-identified veteran data should not be re-identified without authorization; there is an obligation of reciprocity for gains made using veteran data; all parties are obligated to ensure data security, quality and integrity of veteran data; veterans should be able to access to their own information; and veterans have the right to request amendments to their own information.

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