Reuters reports that the federal government is "months behind" its efforts to set up data security measures for the state health insurance exchanges, set to open on October 1, as created by Obamacare:
The federal government is months behind in testing data security for the main pillar of Obamacare: allowing Americans to buy health insurance on state exchanges due to open by October 1
The missed deadlines have pushed the government's decision on whether information technology security is up to snuff to exactly one day before that crucial date, the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general said in a report.
As a result, experts say, the exchanges might open with security flaws or, possibly but less likely, be delayed.
The report, released without fanfare last Friday, found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or CMS - the agency within HHS that is running Obamacare - had set a May 13 deadline for its contractor to deliver a plan to test the security of the crucial information technology component.
A test was to have been performed between June 3 and 7. But the delivery deadline slipped and the test - assessing firewalls and other security elements - is now set for this week and next.
After enactment of the ACA, the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Donald Berwick, had the responsibility of creating systems for the exchanges, which required peripheral support from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Congress did not appropriate special funding for this initiative, and Berwick was unwilling to shift adequate funds within CMS for this critical project. Berwick then failed to persuade HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius to spend one penny on this effort from her massive ACA discretionary fund. Berwick also failed to bully SSA into paying for the entire system; he brushed aside the blatant illegality of that approach.
Civil servants at CMS did what they could to meet the statutory deadline—they threw together an overly simplistic system without adequate privacy safeguards. The system’s lack of any substantial verification of the user would leave members of the public open to identity theft, lost periods of health insurance coverage, and exposure of address for victims of domestic abuse and others. CMS then tried to deflect attention from its shortcomings by falsely asserting that it had done so to satisfy White House directives about making electronic services user-friendly.
In reality, the beta version jammed through a few months ago will, unless delayed and fixed, inflict on the public the most widespread violation of the Privacy Act in our history. Almost a year ago both I and the IRS commissioner raised strong legal objections to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has statutory oversight responsibilities for the Privacy Act. As of the time of my resignation as commissioner of Social Security last February, OMB lawyers could not bring themselves to bless a portal in which I could change Donald Trump’s health insurance and he could change mine.
A new CNN poll finds that 66 percent of American adults believe that it's "right" for the Obama administration to analyze and collect Internet data. Only 33 percent believe the action is "wrong," and 1 percent have "No opinion."
Governments everywhere are on the prowl for more revenues. French president François Hollande wants to tax incomes in excess of €1 million at a 75 percent rate. Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has jacked up VAT.
In an NBC interview, Google's Eric Schmidt reminded America that "It's important to remember these 5 billion people are just like us. They're just trapped in bad poverty and bad governance and so forth." The CEO of Google was referring to those in the world who don't have smartphones:
The United States announced today that it “cannot sign” a proposed treaty that would cede some control of the Internet to the United Nations. The details of the treaty have been the subject of more than a weeklong conference in Dubai.
In the middle of the night at a U.N. conference in Dubai, the presiding chairman of the International Telecommunication Union conference surveyed the assembled countries to see whether there was interest in having greater involvement in the U.N. governing the Internet. A majority of countries gave their approval.
Recently, Google unveiled a new feature on its website: the ability to tour, via “street view,” its Lenoir, North Carolina, data center, one of its numerous, highly guarded campuses. Google is attempting, at least partially, to lift the iron curtain—for which it has been much maligned—and show the world one of the physical strongholds where our personal data are stored. Might we trust the behemoth more if we can catch a glimpse of it from inside?
Two technology firms that monitor global Internet traffic report that Syria has been cut off from the Internet. Regular landline phone and cell phones services have been affected as well, Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid told me. “Therefore, the possibility of accidental damage can be discounted,” said Abdulhamid. “This is something done intentionally by the regime, and reflects growing desperation on account of the recent advances made by rebels, especially in Damascus.”
Next week the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union will meet in Dubai to figure out how to control the Internet. Representatives from 193 nations will attend the nearly two week long meeting, according to news reports.