House Committee Demands Answers From CTO Megan Smith And HHS On Healthcare.Gov Data Mining

Jack Moore | | January 30, 2015

The head of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee says he might call U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith to testify about potential consumer privacy gaps.  Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, sent letters to Smith, as well as the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, following an Associated Press investigation into the presence of data mining companies on

A Jan. 20 AP report revealed data firms embedded on the health-insurance sign-up site -- including digital giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter -- could “glean details” about users, including age, income, ZIP code, whether they smoke and if they are pregnant.  A few days after the AP report was published, officials said they were curtailing the practice.  Still, Lamar Smith called the extent of the potential data mining “astonishing.”

“Once a data mining company seizes this treasure trove of sensitive personal information, it is able to combine this data with other information collected by tapping into commercial websites and databases such as phone calls, texts, social media posts, frequently visited websites and credit card purchases,” he said in the letter to officials.  The letters were addressed to Megan Smith as well as Sylvia Burwell, the head of HHS, and Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS administrator. Lamar Smith, citing the “serious issues of personal privacy and government information security” raised by the AP report, said the committee may ask the officials to “to appear on relatively short notice and testify,” according the letter...