On Tuesday, a report was released that shed light on the vulnerability of HealthCare.gov users’ information to third-party tech firms.
Following an investigation, the Associated Press revealed that the HealthCare.gov website is “quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing.”
This personal data may include the user’s Internet address, age, ZIP code, income, and information on whether the user smokes, or is pregnant.
According to the Associated Press, while the Obama administration claims the website’s connections to data firms “were intended to help improve the consumer experience,” there were connections to “dozens of third-party tech firms,” and seven of the companies were “also collecting highly specific information.”
In a letter to the Obama administration, Republican Senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Charles Grassley of Iowa voiced their concerns:
“This new information is extremely concerning, not only because it violates the privacy of millions of Americans, but because it may potentially compromise their security.”
The Associated Press reported that although third-party sites embedded on HealthCare.gov can’t see a user’s “name, birth date or Social Security number,” they can correlate the fact that the computer accessed the government website with the user’s other Internet activities.
While Cybersecurity was one of the topics Obama discussed during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the emphasis was on keeping private information from falling into the hands of foreign nations, rather than keeping users’ private information from being shared by the U.S. government
“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,” said Obama. “We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber-threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.”