As previously reported on TechRaptor, the Obama administration has gotten heavy criticism because HealthCare.gov shares personal medical information with third parties. It was seen as a betrayal by many, that the government’s own healthcare website would treat confidential information in such a way. However, the administration has taken the criticism seriously and changed its policy on how it handles private medical information.
The data was being shared in the header of http requests being sent by the website. Privacy organizations looked into the headers and saw personal medical information, such as whether a person is pregnant or not or is a smoker, being sent to over a dozen different third parties. Other personal information was being shared as well, such as a person’s state of residence as well as income level. However this is no longer the case.
A recent analysis of the site by the Associated Press indicates that it is no longer explicitly sending information to third parties. The changes were independently confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who called the change, “a great first step.” Not all privacy advocates are satisfied by these changes. They believe connections to private companies on the site should be investigated, even if they aren’t explicitly receiving data.
The administration initially defended sharing medical information with third parties, on the grounds that no personally identifiable information, such as a name or social security number, was being shared. They have not made any statement on the new policy or the reason behind it since the change was discovered. It is possible that private information could still be shared with third parties through less obvious means than those previously employed.
Does the government’s change in policy earn back your trust that they can handle confidential medical information, or are they still untrustworthy? Leave your comments below.