Provisions of the new HIPAA privacy and security rules could change the regulatory landscape for the cloud computing industry, says Robert Belfort, a partner in the health care practice at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

Many cloud companies have taken the view that they are not business associates under HIPAA, but some of them now will be, Belfort asserts. The rules change the definition of a BA to include any entity that maintains protected health information. An Internet service provider, such as a cloud company, is not a BA if it does not maintain or at times access PHI, but acts as a conduit with data just passing through, he explains. “But a company that maintains data is a BA even if it doesn’t access the data. I think that will have implications for the cloud industry.”

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