Monday, October 24, 2011

New York Times: Menikoff Promises Not to Restrict Public Information

Today's New York Times reports on historians' and social scientists' hopes and concerns about the ANPRM, especially the prospect of deregulating oral history while restricting the reuse of social science data.

[Patricia Cohen, "Questioning Privacy Protections in Research," New York Times, 24 October 2011.]

The story quotes three historians--Linda Shopes, Alice Kessler-Harris, and your humble blogger--all expressing hope that the ANPRM will lead to the end of IRB oversight of oral history and concern that privacy rules based on HIPAA will restrict archival research. It also cites the public responses posted by the American Anthropological Association and the American Association of University Professors.

In response to such concerns,

Jerry Menikoff, director of the federal Office for Human Research Protections, which oversees the Common Rule, cautions that any alarm is premature, saying that federal officials do not intend to pose tougher restrictions on information that is already public. "If the technical rules end up doing that, we'll try to come up with a result that's appropriate," he said.

The article ends with Menikoff's sentiments:

Dr. Menikoff said, "We want to hear all these comments." But he maintained that when the final language is published, critics may find themselves saying, "Wow, this is reasonable stuff."

I'm only a cockeyed optimist, but I think that is entirely possible.

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