According to a recently published report, nformation from healthcare.gov is accessible to external parties. According to the report, the website receives different types of data. This includes the area codes, the various income levels, pregnancy information, as well as if a person smokes or drinks on a regular basis.
This information is entered to understand what an insurance plan will cost the person. As per AP, this information was being passed on unknowingly to parties like Google, Twitter, and Yahoo. An independent test conducted by EFF or the Electronic Frontier Foundation, collaborated the report released by AP.
Fourteen different non-government agencies could access this information. These portals included companies that were into the web analytics domain and the social media domain. The first way they got access to the information was through the browser. It stored and shared information on the browsing pattern of a user.
The second was through trackers used for the purpose of web analytics. Programs like Double Click used by the advertising service of Google were found to be at the forefront. The concern was that all this information provides demographic information to advertising companies. This would in turn lead to advertisements being tailor made as per an individual’s requirements.
However, EFF stated that there was no indication of the portals mishandling the information being received from healthcare.gov In addition; it was not known if the trackers were put in there, with the knowledge of the website developers or if it happened due to an oversight.
As per, Mr. Cooper Quintin, staff of from EFF, tracking mechanisms exist to help website developers who keep the website updated. The trackers also help people share the information knowingly on their social media accounts. However, according to him, there are methods that can achieve the goals without disrupting the privacy of a person. The developers could delink third party websites and create an analytical tool from scratch.
There was no comment from government officials on this matter.