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Obamacare Website Funneling Private Consumer Data To Private Companies

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Now, the government may step in, at least to ensure consumers are protected. President Obama on Monday proposed a new law called the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act, which would create a basic set of rules for how companies handle their customer information. It also would criminalize international trade in stolen personal identity information.

 

From a recent CNET article: Obama’s Data-Breach Initiative has Privacy Advocates Optimistic, Cautious

As you may have guessed, as America’s Bullshitter in Chief, Barack Obama, parades around talking about the sanctity of consumers’ personal data, the website that his administration is most responsible for is eagerly leaking private medical data to an unknown number of private firms, including advertisers and data miners. You just can’t make this stuff up.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s health insurance website is quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing, The Associated Press has learned.

 

The scope of what is disclosed or how it might be used was not immediately clear, but it can include age, income, ZIP code, whether a person smokes, and if a person is pregnant. It can include a computer’s Internet address, which can identify a person’s name or address when combined with other information collected by sophisticated online marketing or advertising firms.

 

The Obama administration says HealthCare.gov’s connections to data firms were intended to help improve the consumer experience. Officials said outside firms are barred from using the data to further their own business interests.

See it’s for your own good! In fact, it’s so good for you, that you don’t have a choice in the matter. That’s how good it is.

There is no evidence that personal information has been misused. But connections to dozens of third-party tech firms were documented by technology experts who analyzed HealthCare.gov and then confirmed by AP. A handful of the companies were also collecting highly specific information. That combination is raising concerns.

 

Albright said HealthCare.gov comports with standards set by the federal National Institute for Standards and Technology. But recent NIST guidance cautions that collecting bits of seemingly random data can be used to piece together someone’s identity.

 

In a recent visit to the site, AP found that certain personal details — including age, income and smoking habits — were being passed along, likely without consumers’ knowledge, to advertising and Web analytics sites.

 

Google said it doesn’t allow its systems to target ads based on health or medical history information. “When we learn of possible violations of this policy, we investigate and take swift action,” the company said in a statement.

 

Still, the outside connections surprised a tech expert who evaluated HealthCare.gov’s performance for the AP.

 

“Personally, I look at this … and I don’t know what is going on between the government and Facebook, and Google, and Twitter,” said Mehdi Daoudi, CEO of Catchpoint Systems. “Why is that there?”

 

Daoudi’s company, Catchpoint Systems, came across some 50 third-party connections embedded on HealthCare.gov. They work in the background, unseen to most consumers.

 

The AP replicated the results. In one 10-minute visit to HealthCare.gov recently, dozens of websites were accessed behind the scenes. They included Google’s data-analytics service, Twitter, Facebook and a host of online advertising providers.

 

“I think that this could erode … confidentiality when dealing with medical data and medical information,” said Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.