Privacy expert: Covered California privacy actions ‘worrisome’

Privacy expert: Covered California privacy actions ‘worrisome’

Obamacare waiver for Reid, Allie, cagle, Dec. 10, 2013It isn’t just the federal Affordable Care Act website,, that has suffered unacceptable “glitches” that President Obama has decried. So has our state’s implementation, Covered California, whose problems include low Latino enrollment.

One of the most disconcerting, and persistent, worries about each website is security. The federal website, which has become more usable since its widely mocked launch, has made little progress in improving security. TrustedSec CEO David Kennedy, an internet security expert, told the Washington Free Beacon that it “doesn’t appear that any security fixes were done at all.”

He went on:

“There are a number of security concerns already with the website, and that’s without even actually hacking the site, that’s just a purely passive analysis of [it],” he said. “We found a number of critical exposures that were around sensitive information, the ability to hack into the site, things like that. We reported those issues and none of those appear to have been addressed at all. …

“They said they implemented over 400 bug fixes,” he said. “When you recode the application to fix these 400 bugs — they were rushing this out of the door to get the site at least so it can work a little bit — you’re introducing more security flaws as you go along with it because you don’t even check that code.”

While the federal website’s security issues may be disconcerting — after all, it collects data such as Social Security numbers and some medical information — there is a whole other problem in California.

Covered California’s primary privacy problem isn’t hacking. It’s that Covered California is knowingly giving away some private information — information that users explicitly requested not be shared.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday night that Covered California gave insurance agents the names and contact information of tens of thousands of people who requested that their information remain private. Officials justified their action by saying it was necessary to help people sign up so Covered California could meet its deadline. Fortunately, consumers’ Social Security numbers and medical records were safe; the insurance agents only received names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, told the Times, “I can imagine some people may be upset. … But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.” Of course, it is unclear why people being contacted (after explicitly asking not to be) would be relieved.


Lee said Covered California’s lawyers approved the decision. But Mari Frank, an attorney and certified information privacy professional, told that the choice to ignore consumers’ requests and share the information was “worrisome.”

“I think it was poorly decided — there is so little trust as it is — and consumers are already fearful of ID theft and fraud,” she said.

She added that, while government agencies sharing information with law enforcement and other government agencies is fairly common, sharing personal information with private companies was a new concern.

Ultimately, though, the decision about whether or not to share this kind of information should be a simple one. Frank said, “The government should not share information without prior consent.”


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  1. Queeg
    Queeg 10 December, 2013, 11:22

    Who gets fired……who gets the legal action…..Sutter?

    When do aggressive/corrupt government entities ask for consent? Theoretically, in representative government there is a thingee, as I recall from many many moons ago…..advise and consent…or something…..

    Any lawyers or political science types out there…help!

    Reply this comment
  2. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 10 December, 2013, 13:28

    This new system seems to be a spinoff of ‘NSA’.

    “Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, told the Times, “I can imagine some people may be upset. … But I can see a lot of people will be comforted and relieved at getting the help they need to navigate a confusing process.””

    Don’t complain. Your confidential information is being diseminated to interested third parties w/o your consent for your own good. Just swallow your castor oil. You will learn to tolerate it and, given a little time, you will even learn to enjoy it.

    Now sit still in the darn pot, as the burner gets turned up another notch.

    Reply this comment
  3. The Ted Steele Conceptual Abstraction Unit
    The Ted Steele Conceptual Abstraction Unit 10 December, 2013, 15:24

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ANY way to keep a weak attack up on Obamacare ™ till the 2014’s is good for the “useful idiot” schills of the Republican party–that is, teabaggers, libertarians, etc etc—–useful idiots working hard every day to keep the Republicans is a solid 2nd place position in our 2 party system…ho hum…..and so it goes….

    Reply this comment
    • John Seiler
      John Seiler 10 December, 2013, 15:27

      Ted: With Obamacare, Obama and the Democrats set themselves up with a target so big even Republicans could take advantage of it.

      Reply this comment
    • Dyspeptic
      Dyspeptic 11 December, 2013, 11:28

      Ted, you are truly a craven sycophant and a world class idiot. Why not spend your spare time doing what you are really good at – licking the boots of your masters in Sacramento and The District of Criminals.

      Reply this comment
  4. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 11 December, 2013, 11:34

    So the arrogant creeps who run Covered California violated their own privacy policies in order to cover their own asses. Business as usual in Peoples Republic of Crazyfornia.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 11 December, 2013, 14:24


    Get over it.

    Untill urban pets become ” self sufficient” they will be picked bare by government workers, desperate service workers, teachers, cops, globalists, big box stores…..and now live/die health commissars!

    Reply this comment
  6. Queeg
    Queeg 11 December, 2013, 14:34

    Dys…..Teddy is a decent guy. Teddy brings balanced opinion to CWD. No need to be so emotional…take your meds!

    Reply this comment
  7. Hondo
    Hondo 12 December, 2013, 10:26

    Of course the NSA had a backdoor built into Obamacare.

    Reply this comment

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Tags assigned to this article:
ObamacareEric AllieAdam O'NealPeter LeeMari Frank

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