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Hospital spied on in LA, laptop stolen in SF

Latest privacy breaches include celebrities getting their medical records snooped on in Los Angeles and a laptop with consumer data getting stolen from a San Francisco airport office.

Updated 1:30 p.m. PDT with laptop being found.

The perils to consumer privacy are getting greater day by day.

In a recent headlines, nearly 130 workers at UCLA Medical Center are accused of prying into the medical records of celebrities and other patients. One woman is even accused of selling information about Farrah Fawcett's cancer treatment to tabloids, according to the Los Angeles Times.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, is believed to have had her records snooped on at the hospital, has endorsed legislation that would impose penalties on hospitals and workers for patient privacy breaches.

The breach opens UCLA Medical Center up to lawsuits and government investigations related to alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which requires medical providers to safeguard the privacy of patients, said Brian Cleary, vice president of marketing at Aveksa, which provides access governance solutions to enterprises.

"UCLA has had this happen multiple times," but is not unique, he says. For instance, the passports of presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton were looked at by unauthorized government workers earlier this year, and George Clooney's medical data was breached after a motorcycle accident in New Jersey last year.

"The number of incidents suggests that these organizations do not have an effective (data access) control framework," Cleary says. "Even the federal government needs some work here."

Apparently, the San Francisco Airport could use some help, too.

A laptop containing data on about 33,000 travelers who applied for a national airport fast pass card was believed to have been stolen from a locked office at the San Francisco Airport in late July, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the laptop was found in the room where it was supposed to be.

The alleged breach had forced officials to temporarily halt enrollment in the program, The San Jose Mercury News report said.