Your Online Privacy Scorecard Health Information Websites: How your “health interests” are collected, used and sold! …and what you can do about it.

Your Online Privacy Scorecard Health Information Websites: How your “health interests” are collected, used and sold! …and what you can do about it.

These days being online and having privacy are out of balance. There is too much surveillance of what we do online. At the same time, we are losing control over how we represent ourselves. Free services and convenience are traded for disclosing everything about ourselves. Information about us is collected constantly and sold to advertisers who target us with ads for products and services. Context gets lost. “Health interests” collected from website visits are resold and analyzed to make decisions about us that go well beyond which ad to show next. Our health interests, together with all of our online behavior, become part of our reputation — one that is for sale. Businesses and governments build profiles of who we are, what we do, where our behavior takes place and with whom. This picture of ourselves is used to make decisions on loans, insurance, employment and many other things that impact our lives. Decisions about us that discriminate based on personal information invade our privacy and may be illegal. Privacy is one of the fundamental rights to freedom we enjoy as citizens in this American democracy. Privacy matters, because we all have the right to control how we present ourselves to the world. As Glen Grenwald observed in his 2014 Ted Talk: “There are all sorts of things that we do and think that we’re willing to tell our physician or our lawyer or our psychologist or our spouse or our best friend that we would be mortified for the rest of the world to learn.” This scorecard explains how privacy works when you are online searching for health information and what you can do about it. The scorecard is designed like Consumer Reports product ratings. The privacy policy for each website is compared to best business practices for managing personal information to generate scores in seven categories. A summary scorecard reports the overall rankings, with detailed scorecards for each website. In between the summary and detailed scorecard sections you will find an explanation of the technology, process and players in the “global data about you network.” The final part of this scorecard recommends simple things you can do to protect your privacy and provides links to the best resources available to learn more. I have seen the incredible advances in technology up close, from both a business and a personal perspective, in my 30 years of building packaged application software for large business organizations. My business experience and subject-matter expertise in data and governance helped build this scorecard. On a personal level, I want to explain in straightforward terms a very complex topic that impacts every one of us every day. I hope you know more about your privacy and take actions to protect it online after reading this scorecard. There will be a better balance between privacy and being online for all of us.

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