Journal: Government Information Policy & Security Not Favoring the Public

Legislation, Reform
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EDITORIAL: Invasion of medical privacy

Personal information is up for grabs with government health care

Privacy rights are under threat in the House's government health care plan. While plowing through the more than 1,000-page Democratic House bill, Declan McCullagh of CBS News uncovered provisions that would allow startling privacy intrusions. The innermost secrets of people's personal lives would be made available to thousands of government bureaucrats.

Section 431(a) requires the Internal Revenue Service to give detailed taxpayer information to the new health choices commissioner and state health programs. The helpful government just wants to be able to tell citizens when they might be eligible for benefits they somehow might have overlooked. Besides letting all those government bureaucrats know about an individual's income, number of dependents and filing status, the plan has an unlimited catchall that would require disclosure of “other information as is prescribed by” the health commissioner. The IRS would be commanded to provide whatever information about individual taxpayers the health choices commissioner deemed necessary.

Phi Beta Iota: In 1994 we sounded the alarm with a letter and a cross-walk by three experts to Marty Harris, the heading up the National Information Infrastructure (NII) endeavor for the White House.  He ignored us all.  Today the U.S. Government is betraying the public trust in two fundamental ways:  1)  there is no strategy (not even the understanding to create a strategy) to provide for resilience of the Internet and all related communications and computing infrastructures; 2) there is a deliberate refusal to treat content as an intangible value with attributes and “rights” of ownership at the individual level.  The U.S. Government is “out of control” and “out of its mind” in relation to the most fundamental aspect of a nation-state in the information era: how to be a Smart Nation, something we have been writing about since 1994, cf. Creating a Smart Nation as published in the Government Information Quarterly.  Until We the People demand both the Electoral Reform Act of 2009 and the Smart Nation Act of 2010, much of what the government does will be ill-advised and often very detrimental to the public.

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