Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–231.24. Confidentiality and disclosure of information from vital records or vital reports.

(a) Vital records, vital reports, indices, related documents, and data or information contained therein shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 2.

(b) Except as authorized by this chapter, rules issued pursuant to and consistent with this chapter, or by an order of the court, it shall be unlawful for any individual to permit inspection of, or to disclose data or information contained in a vital record, a vital report, or related documents, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such record or report. Rules implementing this section shall provide for adequate standards of security and confidentiality of the vital statistics system.

(c) Unless otherwise provided by this chapter, personally identifiable information that may identify any individual named in any vital record or report may be disclosed for health research purposes only after:

(1) Submission of a written request for information by a researcher;

(2) Approval of the Registrar through the execution of a written research agreement that describes the research project;

(3) Documented applicable Institutional Review Board approval pursuant to section 491(a) of the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, approved November 20, 1985 (99 Stat. 820; 42 U.S.C. § 289(a));

(4) Provision of documented procedures to protect the confidentiality and security of the information; and

(5) Provision of documented procedures for data storage and the data destruction method to be used for the information provided.

(d) Except as authorized by the Registrar, any agreement pursuant to which personally identifiable information contained in a vital record or report is disclosed shall:

(1) Prohibit the re-release by the researcher of any personally identifiable information without explicit permission from the Registrar;

(2) Require that the information shall be used solely for research or administrative purposes;

(3) Require that the information shall be used only for the project described in the application;

(4) Prohibit the use of the information as a basis for legal, administrative, or any other action that directly affects any individual or institution identifiable from the data;

(5) Set forth the payment, if any, to be provided by the researcher to the Registrar for the specified research project; and

(6) Require that ownership of vital records data provided under the agreement shall remain with the Registrar, not the researcher or the research project.

(e) The Registrar may disclose de-identified statistical data from vital records that do not identify or enable the identification of any individual to federal, District, state, or other public or private agencies that request the data for statistical or administrative purposes in accordance with standards established by rules issued pursuant to § 7-231.29.

(f)(1) The Registrar may authorize the release of vital event verification copies of records or data from the system of vital statistics to a government entity, including federal, state, local and tribal agencies, upon written request, provided that the copies or data shall be used solely in the conduct of the government agency's official duties.

(2) The Registrar, in deciding whether to approve a government agency request submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, shall consider the agency's or other entity's proposed use, frequency of need, security after receipt, and other relevant criteria. The Registrar shall base authorization for the request on:

(A) Written data sharing agreements that clearly specify the intended uses and protect the confidentiality and security of the information provided, and are executed before the Registrar prior to the release of personally identifiable information for government agency official use. Such agreements shall:

(i) Prohibit the re-release by the government agency of any personally identifiable information other than re-release that may be provided for in the agreement;

(ii) Set forth the payment, if any, to be provided by the government agency to the Registrar for the specified purpose; and

(iii) Specify that ownership of vital records data provided under such agreements shall remain solely with the Registrar, not the government agency authorized by the agreement to use the data;

(B) Receipt of an application from an applicant entitled to receive the certified copy of a vital record and authorization by the applicant l to release the information to the agency or other entity;

(C) An order of the court requiring the release of the information to the agency or other entity; or

(D) A demonstration of administrative need by the agency or other entity.

(g)(1) The Registrar may furnish to the National Center for Health Statistics ("NCHS") or its successor agency, copies of data, records, or reports from the system of vital statistics as it may require for national statistics; provided, that the NCHS or its successor agency share in the cost of collecting, processing, and transmitting the data; provided further, that the data shall not be used for other than statistical purposes by the NCHS or its successor agency unless so authorized by the Registrar in writing.

(2) To obtain data, records, or reports from the Registrar, the NCHS or its successor agency shall enter into an agreement with the Registrar indicating the statistical purposes for which the data, records, or reports may be used. The agreement shall prohibit the re-release of data, records, or reports by the NCHS or its successor agency without express written permission from the Registrar. Ownership of vital records data provided under such agreements shall remain solely with the Registrar, not the NCHS or its successor agency.

(h)(1) The Registrar may, according to terms defined by an inter-jurisdictional exchange agreement ("Agreement"), transmit vital records data, or copies of records and other reports to:

(A) The offices of vital statistics in other states or U.S. jurisdictions outside of the District; or

(B) Foreign countries when the data, records, or other reports relate to residents of those states, U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign countries or to individuals who are born or die in those states, U.S. jurisdictions, or foreign countries.

(2) The Agreement shall specify the purposes for which the data, records, or reports may be used by each state, U.S. jurisdiction, or foreign country, and shall provide instructions for the proper retention and disposition of the data, records, or reports.

(3) Any vital records data or copies of records or reports received by the Registrar from another state, U.S. jurisdiction, or foreign country as a result of an Agreement shall be confidential and the state, U.S. jurisdiction, or foreign country where the event occurred shall retain ownership of the data, records, or reports.

(4) Data, records, or reports may be used by the recipient state, U.S. jurisdiction, or foreign country only for the purposes specified in the Agreement, and the Agreement shall prohibit the recipient state, U.S. jurisdiction, or foreign country from otherwise disclosing any of the District's data, records, or reports.

(i)(1) A live birth record shall be considered open when 125 years have elapsed from the date of birth.

(2) A death record shall be considered open when 75 years have elapsed from the date of death or fetal death.

(3) A marriage record shall be considered open when 100 years have elapsed from the date of marriage, divorce, dissolution of marriage, or annulment.

(j)(1) Supporting documents, including corrections and acknowledgments of paternity for open vital records shall also be public. Sealed records shall not be classified as public unless unsealed by the court. Vital records made public after the prescribed time may be transferred to the District of Columbia Archives ("Archives") in accordance with archival procedures that provide for the continued safekeeping of such vital records.

(2) Before the transfer of live birth and death records to the Archives, the Registrar shall redact any information identified in the NCHS' U.S. Standard Certificates of live birth and death, and reports of fetal death or reports of induced termination of pregnancy, or as identified by the District by rules issued pursuant to § 7-231.29 as medical or for health use only.

(3) The Registrar shall be the only individual authorized to issue certified copies of live birth and death records in the District.

(k) The Vital Records Division shall remain the legal custodian of live birth, death and fetal death, domestic partnership, and dissolution of domestic partnership records and related statistical reports until these records are transferred to the Archives. Only the Registrar may certify issuances of District live birth, death and fetal death records. The Archives may provide non-certified copies of vital records made public pursuant to subsection (j) of this section in accordance with the procedures of the Archives for making non-certified copies.

(l) The Registrar shall disclose information contained in vital records, or copies of vital records, to the IV-D agency upon request, for purposes directly related to paternity establishment or the establishment, modification, or enforcement of a support order.

(m) The Registrar may approve or deny a request for inspection or disclosure of data. A decision by the Registrar regarding the inspection or disclosure of data or information contained in a vital record or vital report shall constitute a final agency determination.

(n) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the Registrar shall provide reports of homicides or suicides, as that term is defined in § 5-1431.01(e), to the Violence Fatality Review Committee established pursuant to § 5-1431.01.


(Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-164, § 124, 65 DCR 9324.)

Applicability

Section 401 of D.C. Law 22-164 provided that subsection (n) of this section shall apply as of October 1, 2018.