Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

ATTORNEY GENERAL CORNYN GETS PRIVACY GUARANTEES IN DR.KOOP.COM BANKRUPTCY

Settlement Ensures Protection of Medical Information on One Million Clients

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today reached a crucial accord with the trustee administering the Dr.Koop.com federal bankruptcy liquidation now pending in Los Angeles. The arrangement guarantees that private medical histories of about one million customers whose names are on the Dr.Koop.com database will be protected, as promised in the company's privacy policy.

More specifically, those who shared personal medical and health information online with Dr.Koop, many of them Texans, must give their consent to have this information transferred if the web site is eventually sold to a buyer. The agreement reached today still requires the final approval of the bankruptcy court.

"We are proud that Texas continues to be at the forefront of protecting these important privacy rights when such sensitive personal information hangs in the balance," said Attorney General Cornyn. "Those who voluntarily submitted such information about themselves did so with an expectation that their personal information would be kept confidential, and that must be honored."

Dr.Koop.com, formerly with an office in Austin, provided its clients with comprehensive health care information online, as well as access to medical databases and publications. The company also enabled clients to collect and share personal medical information via interactive "chat rooms" and provided interactive tools for searching the web for drug-related information.

Dr.Koop's policy involved a commitment to safeguarding its clients' privacy, a concern for the Attorney General and the catalyst for his request to the trustee. A one-million customer database is considered a valuable asset when combined with the overall web site sale.

Under the terms of the agreement reached with the Attorney General, and prior to a sale of the web site, Dr.Koop must notify customers of the pending sale transaction and offer them a chance to have their information transferred to a new owner. If customers do not respond decline to have their information disclosed to a new buyer, their complete personal file will be destroyed.

Attorney General Cornyn obtained similar settlements involving privacy issues in 2000 and 2001 with Living.com, eToys.com and Toysmart.com.

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