If data published by digital rights advocates is true, then Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) may well have to thank HealthCare.gov for unlimited access to personal data of its subscribers.
The website, HealthCare.gov which collects personal data of those seeking Affordable Care Act benefits that includes data such as income level, zip code, pregnancy status, smoking status and more. While there is no harm in the company collecting such data, at the center of the digital storm is a loop that appears to have emerged at the websites.
Apparently, a feature on the website had led to sharing of personal data via an implicit URL that carries such data. Experts indicate that the ‘referrer header’ that the website shares with 14 third party domains, include Google Inc, Twitter.com, Yahoo.com, Doubleclick.net, is despite a ‘do not track’ feature enabled by the users. The referrer head carry the page that asks for the third party resource, which also tags the entire data set of the user.
While there is no direct way in which the data can be used by third parties, digital right advocates fear that in the hands of powerful giants such as Google Inc, which already has real-name database of its users will be able to match such data and create unobtrusively digital profiles for advertisers.
Digital right activists suggest that solutions are available to plug the major data breach, but the concern is the negligent attitude in storing of such sensitive user information by the website. The risk that any of the third party’s hacking could well lead to disastrous penetration of the healthcare.gov website itself is another major concern, the activists’ remark. Therefore, blocking third party tracking is the quickest solution that the website has to implement before much damage is caused by intruders for gain! Privacy Standards compliance is the basic requirement for any website, government or private!