US Balks at Revealing Data on Obamacare Security

Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 09:59 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Obama administration is refusing to reveal information about the security software systems embedded in the Obamacare website because hackers could possibly use the data to access personal data, Fox News reported.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has denied a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press that was filed after Republicans expressed fears about privacy protection for people signing up for insurance with the troubled HealthCare.Gov. exchange.

Medicare told AP that revealing the documents, including the "site security plan," would contravene health privacy laws and "potentially" allow hackers to get into the system and obtain enrollees’ files.

"We concluded that releasing this information would potentially cause an unwarranted risk to consumers' private information," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said in a statement, according to Fox News.

AP has asked the White House to reconsider the request in light of the fact that in 2009 Obama ordered federal agencies to be more transparent.

The president said at the time that federal offices should not keep information confidential "merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," Fox News said.

Attorney General Eric Holder has also told agencies to be transparent where possible, urging them to release certain files with some information redacted. But CMS has refused to reveal any data related to the security systems, Fox News said.

The government also cited the potential for the invasion of privacy surrounding law-enforcement records of Obamacare enrollees, without revealing how the data could be connected to healthcare files.

Dan Metcalfe, a former director of the Justice Department's office of information and privacy who's now at American University's law school, told Fox News he was dubious about CMS’s privacy claims as the reason for not revealing the security systems.

"Here you have an example of an agency resorting to a farfetched privacy claim in an unprecedented attempt to bridge this legal gap and, in the process, making it even worse by going overboard in withholding such records in their entireties," Metcalfe said.

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