HealthCare.gov, the United States' official health insurance website, is secretly disseminating Americans' data to private Web analytic companies for marketing purposes, the Associated Press reports. The whole deal is quite ironic considering that President Obama has been talking about increasing cybersecurity measures, and even urged Congress to pass a legislation to improve internet security during his State of the Union speech.
HealthCare.gov was created under the president’s health care law and operates under the United States Department of Health and Human Rights, serving residents of 37 states. It connects people who lack health insurance with plans, many of which are government-subsidized.
The nature of the data which is being shared is not quite clear, but it can include the age, income, ZIP code and the computer’s IP address of the consumer, which can lead to the disclosure of personal contact details. Other particulars – such as a person’s smoking habits, or if someone is pregnant – might also be available to these outside firms.
So far there is no evidence of the data being misused by the firms, but the news has raised serious concerns among American citizens regarding the violation of their privacy.
Although the U.S. administration claims that the tech-firms were barred from using the data except for improving the consumer experience, the fact that this highly specific data is out there for third party websites is extremely unsettling.