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Three Internet health organizations announced in October that they were forming a coordinating committee to collaborate on ethical conduct codes. The committee has a goal of ensuring a system of e-health codes that is understandable to the public and that uses a common terminology. The organizations involved in this committee are:
• Hi-Ethics (Health Internet Ethics), a collation of 20 of the most widely used U.S.-based consumer health Internet sites and information providers.
• Health on the Net Foundation, a not-for-profit portal for medical and health-related information based in Geneva.
• Internet Healthcare Coalition’s e-Health Ethics Initiative. The Internet Healthcare Coalition is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization. Its initiative aims to provide a forum for the development of a universal set of ethical principles for health-related Web sites.
The first step of the collaboration will be the development of a common glossary of definition and terms for verification and compliance efforts. E-health consumers should be able to easily compare security and privacy statements using universal descriptions. The common terminology will be used by the three organizations when communicating future developments. The groups hope their efforts may set domestic standards and may eventually led to cooperation on an international level.