Report: They’re tracking your personal health data – and you don’t know it

Every time you visit a web site, a “big data” collection firm is gathering your information. Buy something on the Internet, ask for information on a subject through Google, every web site visited—is all collected, sifted through and you get profiled by a data company. Then that information is sold to marketing firms, government agencies get it—and not through the NSA, but through legitimate sources. Go to a web site and ask about diabetes—that goes on your data record. Ask about cancer, which is now on your record.

No need for a data company to steal personal information, we give it away every day—and others make money from selling it!

“Just using cellphones, credit cards, going to certain websites and even using store coupons clipped from the paper leaves trails of data that are often harnessed by third parties, sometimes without consumers’ knowledge. These pieces-n-parts of data are scooped up by firms specializing in parsing “big data” for their clients.”

Work_in_the_computer_lab

 

Report: They’re tracking your personal health data – and you don’t know it

Central Valley Business Times, 7/16/14

•  People leave wide open trails of data – without knowing it

•  “The potential to paint a detailed health profile of individuals”
Americans are letting third parties unknown to them get a thorough picture of their health, thanks to the mining of “big data,” says a report from the California Healthcare Foundation.

Just using cellphones, credit cards, going to certain websites and even using store coupons clipped from the paper leaves trails of data that are often harnessed by third parties, sometimes without consumers’ knowledge. These pieces-n-parts of data are scooped up by firms specializing in parsing “big data” for their clients.

“Aggregated and analyzed, these data flows, which occur with and without our knowledge, have the potential to paint a detailed health profile of individuals, as well as to describe whole communities based on location, health conditions, or other factors,” the foundation says.

Most people are unaware that they are leaving their personal data behind, says the foundation, and that some of this information is not protected by HIPAA – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 – which is supposed to protect health information from prying eyes.

Despite HIPAA, data brokers are able to build health profiles of individuals to sell to marketers just be gluing together information outside of the law’s shield.

Don’t like it, assuming you could find out about it? Too bad. Consumers lack recourse to obtain or correct their information, says the foundation.

But it’s not all skulking about by evil-doers, the report says. There are positives to this data mining.

Examples:

• It can make clinical trials faster and more effective

• It can help anticipate epidemics

• It can help manage chronic diseases such as asthma

• It can help individuals focus on their own health goals/

But there are growing concerns, the report says. For example, computers will make decisions on mathematical models that are kept from the public.

“We are outsourcing decisions to a virtual entity which has none of our humanist notions or a sense of fair play,” the report quotes Fred Trotter, a health technology expert with the research firm O’Reilly Media Inc. of Sebastopol.

 

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Rottweiler says

    Bing, Ixquickmetasearch and others do not track. Stay away from the sell out to the government [email protected] and you are better off than sharing with everyone. Make certain your medical records are kept non-electronic, it might be difficult. Larger institutions like Cedars Sinai is entirely electronic and can be shared. My physician will not go electronic for the reason that it can be requested at a later time for a patient’s information to be shared. Be alert and you will have less for them to learn about you. Can you believe this is 2014 and not Orwell’s year? It feels the same.

  2. I received a letter in the mail regarding a ‘Smoking Survey’ by the CDC. When they called and identified themselves, they asked if I was over 18, and I replied, ‘No my dad’s not home’. They then asked how old I was, and what I did for a living. I told them I was 17 and attended high school. ‘What would be a good time to talk to your dad’? I replied, tomorrow after 10:00 AM. I’m now letting my answering machine field ALL incoming calls.
    Just like ‘If Bubba Can Dance, So Can I, If Obama Can Lie, So Can I.
    I figured my private life is NONE of their business.

Speak Your Mind

*