Microsoft's Virtual Gold Mine: Health and Education Data

OPINION -- February 17, 2012 -- If we open Microsoft®’s Health Vault, we’ll open Pandora’s box to cyber harms that cannot be undone. Microsoft, Google and Facebook seem to think data sharing makes them our blood brothers. That shouldn’t give them the right to torment us with personalized advertising and other threats as our new Big Brothers.

Rapidly changing technology is the rationale for a Microsoft® monopoly on electronic health records. Funny that this is happening since Google Health pulled the plug on its personal health record services in 2011 because of a "lack of widespread adoption."

Will this monopoly be an "opt-in service", meaning medical information can only be accessed when volunteered by individuals? And will Microsoft's services be considered a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996? HIPAA privacy laws did not apply to Google Health.

Microsoft is also sticking its grubby fingers into Oregon’s newly merged educational and wage databases. Project ALDER, Advancing Longitudinal Data for Education Reform, intends to use the social security number to “track students through postsecondary education and beyond–into the workforce."

Project ALDER was conceived with money from Gates Foundation and born through Gates lobbying since it’s funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can follow the money of K & L Gates on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Google is finding its own commercial niche in education through apps—to the consternation of many. Google spokesman, Dan Drinan says, "No company lets you opt out of their privacy policy or terms of service and continue to use their service." Epocrates markets a popular health care app. Perhaps the app will be the warehouse for Google’s data mining?

Cyber criminality is increasing. One in four of all data breaches involves schools. To see 20 years of medical identity theft, view the graphic details at the home page of the World Privacy Forum.Cyber security vendors have their work cut out for them.

Is it coincidental that Microsoft has a no-bid contract for health care and educational databases? I don’t think so.

Corporate-persons should not brand us with their trademarks and trade secrets. We don’t need a corporate Big Brother! We need strong federal and state laws to protect our confidential health and education records.

Dr. Kris Alman retired from healthcare to become a citizen activist for a healthier democracy. She advocates for fair taxation to invest in our common goods--prioritizing education, renewable energy, campaign finance and healthcare policies and laws.

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