Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Birthdate, ObamaCare and Information Privacy

There is an old saying among gentlemen that goes, "never ask a woman her age." In the age of Big Data, here is a new nugget of genderless common sense for everyone: "Never give your Birthdate, EVER." When you give someone your birthdate, sex and zip code they can identify you. If they combine this information with publicly available data, they can identify you by name.

A website called How Unique Are You shows precisely how. The website was created to alert you to the dangers to your privacy. Go fill out your information and look in horror as you are identified. Most results narrow down to just one possible person.

Sample Identifiability

From the site's About page
This service reports how unique your demographics may be using Census data.

Birthdate (month, day and year of birth), gender, and 5-digit postal code (ZIP) uniquely identifies most people in the United States. Surprised? Perhaps at first, but then you do a quick calculation: 365 days in a year x 100 years x 2 genders = 73,000 unique combinations, and because most postal codes have fewer people, the surprise fades. Or, if you are still not convinced, there are more than 32,000 5-digit ZIP codes in the United States; so 73,000 x 32,000 is more than 2 billion possible combinations but there are only 310 million people in the United States. In 1997, Latanya Sweeney did this kind of uniform calculation on populations reported in the U.S. Census for age groups in each postal code and summed the results to predict that at most 87 percent of the U.S. population had unique combinations 
If you live in a remote location, you are easier to identify.
Notice that even knowing the county, age, and gender can make some people unique. They are few, and they tend to live in remote locations, but notice it is not 0.
Identifiability Graphs

The page goes on to explain the real problem, 87.1% of Americans are identifiable. Many marketers and other organizations share your information but protect privacy by concealing your name, address and social security number. Using publicly available information like a voter list and matching it with nameless private data such a medical records, privacy intruders can easily rebuild your identity data via demographics.

Medical data Plus Voter info equal names

Disguised as expanding Americans’ access to healthcare, a central database with all this information is being established. The Federal Data Services Hub is being assembled as part of ObamaCare’s insurance exchange implementation. Stephen T. Parente and Paul Howard report in USA Today:
By mid-December, the federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic. If you think identity theft is a problem now, wait until Uncle Sam serves up critical information on 300 million American citizens on a platter. ..

In order to determine eligibility for health insurance subsidies, the new exchange has to bring together information about you and your family from the Treasury Department and IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, as well as your Social Security number — all coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, there is no vetting process for those who will collect and control the medical information. There are no data privacy or fraud safeguards in ObamaCare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) as it moves toward full implementation on Jan. 1, 2014. This is how the government and criminals will use the system to gather all of your private information.

Finally, consider that ObamaCare tax money is funding far left organizations. Nearly $200 million was secretly funneled to unions and far left groups in California alone as "outreach" for ObamaCare. These groups will collect and have access to all of your health information. As we see in the IRS scandal, they will use this power to rig elections and subvert our constitutionally protected civil rights.

The Civil Disobedience Solution

Now you know the problem, but all too often blogs and pundits fail to provide solutions. Not this time. 

In the 1960's a Republican named Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us: "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws." Today, we must echo this sentiment and begin using the 15th of every month as our birthdates with regard to ObamaCare, other medical and all marketing information. This will destroy any ability to individually target us through demographic information.

Conservative legislators should pass a law allowing individuals to report the 15th of their birth month as their birthday in all federal documents relating to medical information. Possibly, this could be amended to HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Maybe a brilliant law-maker has already added this to a law somewhere. If so, please add the information to the comments below.

Do not be concerned about existing information that you no longer control. This suggestion is for information within your control and can be applied to social networks immediately. Previously given information will be corrupted by future information. Privacy experts and computer professionals like myself will narrow down any additional "cross-checks" that are developed by Big Data collection.

This civil disobedience is a reflection of the simple truth that the freedom movement, the tea party, the 912 project and other groups are civil rights movements. It is time for us to take our place in history.


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