"Carrier IQ and Facebook pose the least of your privacy threats"

Gene Wirchenko genew at ocis.net
Fri Dec 2 11:15:23 PST 2011

Galen Gruman, *InfoWorld*, 2 Dec 2011
Users are regularly signing up for Big Brother-like tech that could
result in the loss of insurance coverage or worse

selected text:

But the worst risk is what people aren't talking about: Big Brother-type
technology used to monitor specific individuals and shape their behavior
through penalties and rewards. If the government were doing this, we'd have
people in the streets, but in the hands of private companies, these
seductive methods convince people to naively agree to being controlled.

Take, for example, Progressive Insurance's program of offering tracking
devices to monitor how you drive. If you drive safely, as determined by
Progressive, you get an discount. If you're determined to be unsafe, you pay
the "normal" rate.

Given insurance companies' business model -- pay out as little as possible,
take in as much as possible -- the long-term result is obvious: "Unsafe"
drivers will pay more, or they won't be eligible for insurance.

It's not just Progressive. There's been a lot of excitement in the health
care industry over monitoring devices that can make sure people are taking
their medication, eating right, and even exercising. If you do what you're
supposed to, you may get a discount, such as on medical insurance, a measure
now being considered for employer-sponsored plans. If you don't, you may get
nagged, pay more, or be denied coverage. The Orwellian name for such control
approaches is "wellness incentives."

Here is what one poster had to say about the medical monitoring.  That last
paragraph is particularly nasty:

A very good article pointing out activities that are already occurring that
will impact people's lives far more than they think.

My company has been on the leading edge of the health care tracking that is
mentioned in this article.  Already offering incentives for providing
additional health information, they are now offering incentives for
providing detailed health information such as height, weight, cholesterol,
etc.  The plan has already been announced that in another year that
information will be provided to some kind of CSR that will make sure that
your numbers either improve, or that you are actively working on improving
your numbers...or you lose access to the premium insurance.  It is only a
half-step further to lose access to all insurance altogether by
participating in the program.

Unfortunately, most people do not understand the very real problem being
started here.  They likely will not understand it until they get bit by it.
All they see is the discounts being offered.  As someone who spent 9 years
trying to get doctors to understand that I actually was exercising very well
and ate correctly culminating in the discovery of Conn's Syndrome (the
actual root cause of my very high hypertension), I shudder to think how I
would have to deal with that with some under-educated CSR who would simply
report that I clearly was lying about something.


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