Thursday, September 10, 2009

So Much for Internet Privacy

A cross post from the Real Barack Obama

obama is watchingIt sure looks that way. Remember the recent brouhaha we had only a short while ago about internet privacy and flag @ WH mouthpiece Robert Gibbs was asked at the August 18 press briefer if he thought it was a good idea to be spying on American citizens. Remember that?

Well, if the e-letter (posted at the bottom of the page), which arrived around 10:30 a.m. Eastern in a regular RBO reader's inbox, is any indication the White House is passing around email addresses -- or at least it has to the Department of Health and Human Services and HHS's

You see there's only one problem -- our RBO reader never signed up for any HHS e-mail list -- yet there it is, the e-mail below.

Then there's the little matter of the email's subject line: "U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services Health Reform Pledge Submissions Update."

"Pledge Submissions"??? What "Pledge Submissions"???

btn_supporthrhiIs this what they're talking about? Could it be that wants you to click on that button? And then what? Collects more information from and about you? Let's just say RBO didn't want to find out what was behind that "door".

Plus, to the best of our knowledge, our regular RBO reader didn't push that button either.

So, what's going on here?

Not being tech gurus here at RBO we're really not qualified to hazard a guess. However, let's take another look at the August 18 exchange on internet privacy between Fox New's Major Garrett (Q) and Robert Gibbs for some clues:

    Q One other issue related on Internet privacy — the White House announced through OMB a couple of weeks ago a public comment period on removal of a nine-year ban, dating back to the Clinton administration, on persistent cookies, the idea that if you come to government Web sites, you can be in some way, shape or form tracked in ways you can’t now. What’s the status of that? Does the administration still think that’s a good idea? Has it learned anything from public comment about this to change whether or not that’s a good idea or not?

    MR. GIBBS: I have not talked to — about the comments. I know the policy of this government is not to allow Web-tracking technology. We are continually adding to our Internet platforms in order to provide greater openness and transparency in government and trying to do so in a way that always, first and foremost, protects people’s privacy. That will always be what we do first and foremost.

    Q And this idea of allowing, perhaps, limited persistent cookies is consistent with that, even though some on the other side have wondered whether or not it might compromise some people’s Internet security if they go repeatedly to government Web sites?

    MR. GIBBS: Well, again, you should discuss with OMB some of the — I’m conversant on cookies, but it’s slightly different than what you and I are discussing now. (Laughter.)

    But obviously, Major, we are trying to develop tools that broaden the amount of information, the ease with which people get. If somebody goes to your blog on, they’re providing information, personal information to a Web site. We want to ensure that we can continue to use the best tools possible to provide information with the greatest ease and protect people’s privacy, first and foremost. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.

Question: Is your government using Web-tracking technology or not? How else to explain the following HHS e-mail? (Emphasis added.)


    There’s never been a more important moment for health insurance reform.

    Last night, President Obama delivered an address to Congress and called for real health insurance reform. The President said:

      Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

    We’re continuing to do all we can to inform the American people about the problems with the health care status quo and the urgent need for health insurance reform.

    Today, the Secretary is releasing a new report, Insurance Insecurity regarding workers who receive health insurance through an employer. Millions of Americans depend on their job for health benefits, but more and more of these families have seen their coverage disappear.

    The new report notes the striking statistics:

  • A full one in six Americans with employer-sponsored insurance in 2006 lost that coverage by 2008.
  • When an employee and his or her family lose employer coverage, the family must seek alternative coverage and frequently turn to the individual market. However, a family that buys insurance on the individual market pays nearly 60 percent more in out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-payments than a family that gets insurance through work
  • Almost 75 percent of individuals looking for coverage on the individual market never bought a plan, with 61 percent of those who did not purchase the insurance citing premium cost as the primary reason.

    I hope you will visit and read the complete report. It’s another powerful argument in favor of real reform that will give American families the security and stability they need.

    We know that this is a critical time and we are closer to health insurance reform than ever before. Now, with your help and your support, we will make reform a reality.


    Jeanne Lambrew
    Director, HHS Office of Health Reform

So, sure. Go ahead. Push that button. State your "support". You never know, you might even get some unsolicited e-mail from ACORN or the SEIU.


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