Is There Really Such a Thing as Private Information Anymore?

In a recent video, investigative journalist Ben Swann takes a look at the federal data hub, a massive collection of information on Americans that is shared among government agencies. On top of the many questions this issue raises, the biggest question Swann examines is, does privacy exist anymore?

Last week, an article published on IVN examined one instance where information obtained by the intelligence community was used by the DEA to make arrests, but the agency withheld the source of their information. The sharing of citizen data is so wide it includes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the defense department (DoD), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), just to name a few.

Swann specifically looks at HHS as the department is looking to hire several new employees to make up for the backlog caused by the delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it is commonly known as. In order to sign up citizens for health care exchanges as quickly as possible, the HHS is going to need information.

So, what kind of data are we talking about here?

According to Swann, in order to sign up for federal health care exchanges, an individual is required to submit certain personal information. This information includes “medical records, social security numbers, tax information, even bank account information.”

“This is done by allowing 7 different government agencies, including the IRS, Department of Justice, Social Security Administration, and others to share and verify information in order to determine eligibility for an insurance subsidy.”

To put it simply, this means everything about a person will be shared among multiple agencies. More specifically, the navigators — as they are called — who access this information within the HHS will be able to see all this information about you.

What may concern many Americans is that not only are these navigators not required to even have a high school diploma or equivalent to be hired, they do not have to submit to a background check. All that is required of them is a 20 to 30 hour online course on understanding the ACA.

Debra Bowen, California’s secretary of state, has designated the state’s health benefit exchange, Covered California, a voter registration agency under the national Voter Registration Act. Every transaction will incorporate voter registration so these navigators will truly have access to everything about an individual.

But, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Medicare and Medicaid Services, spoke before Congress and said fear not:

“I want to assure you and all Americans that, when they fill out their [health-insurance] marketplace applications, they can trust the information they’re providing is protected.”

Do you trust the information shared and consolidated by multiple federal agencies through this federal data hub is safe? Is there such a thing as personal privacy anymore?