Wednesday, 21 May 2014

the privacy act, as amended

To the patient on the other side of the counter, it must look like those at the reception desk are engaging in a quick round of Space Invaders rather than scheduling a follow-up appointment as these systems require a lot of keyboard interaction—scrolling through that eventually comes really rapidly with video-game like reflexes.  Though there is no universal operating system as yet (HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, legislation after all is not really about protecting privacy or securing medical records but about sharing that information among hospitals and physicians), there is one dominant player that’s delivered under government contract some really robust albeit technically ancient legacy software—the Space Invaders type.
Given the mandate that all practitioners in the US are required to keep electronically accessible medical records (the insurers pushed for this as well) and that the government will again claim imminent domain on individuals’ entire medical history—documented by competent authorities and from non-traditional sources, like social networks, as well—in order to better execute its mission of bio-surveillance, I am sure that the contractor formerly known as the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) will see a boon and become the industry standard.  Public health and being able to track the spread of sickness (both for oneself and for the population at large) in time to do something about it is one thing and it would be prudent and in any one’s better interest to do.  I suspect, however, that maybe benignly the government will keep tabs on everyone to ensure that they’re getting regular check-ups and remain healthy, balanced and productive members of society—or rather, nefariously, at the behest of big pharmaceutical companies, peddling their snake-oil and leech-craft for them and ensuring that employers can get more and more from the proletariat.
SAIC is already the perfect candidate to interlace all of this data, having been commissioned in the past to carry out work for the National Security Agency, including technical support for ThinThread and its successor Trailblazer Project that wire-tapped the World Wide Web.  More bizarrely, SAIC was also part of a consortium of research laboratories conducting trials for the Army’s Defense Intelligence Agency’s Stargate Project to study psychic abilities and the viability of paranormal talents for espionage.   The program supposedly was discontinued in the mid-nineties, but who can say, as it was standard protocol for the proctors never to disclose to their telepathic and clairvoyant subjects whether they were right or wrong, as it might influence native aptitudes.  Regardless of the disposition of this data and just because America has already compromised the security and private lives of every human on Earth with its prying, it does not mean that we ought to become complacent about maintaining integrity for our confidences and health and surrender.  Withholding of intent—whether by or for faith-healers, is not good bedside manner and about as off-putting as having the receptionist banging on a keyboard—repeatedly and randomly without explanation.