'No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy':Obamacare Website Source Code

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

Demystifying liberal myth

Minneapolis, MN

#1 Oct 14, 2013
The launch of federal government's Obamacare insurance exchange, Healthcare.gov , has been plagued with delays, errors, and poor website design, even prompting USA Today to call it an "inexcusable mess" and a "nightmare". Now comes another example of why the website's reputation is in tatters. Buried in the source code of Healthcare.gov is this sentence that could prove embarrassing: "You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system." Though not visible to users and obviously not intended as part of the terms and conditions, the language is nevertheless a part of the underlying code for the "Terms & Conditions" page on the site.

After creating an account on Healthcare.gov , users are asked to click an "I accept" button under some routine Terms & Conditions prohibiting unauthorized attempts to upload information or change the website. Once users click the button, they may proceed to shop for insurance and enter detailed personal information. However, when the Terms & Conditions page is visible, the hidden sentence mentioned above along with several others can be seen by using a web browser's "View Source" feature. A screen grab below shows the visible Terms & Conditions page along with a simultaneous view of the code underlying it:

The full portion of the code which does not appear on the visible page displayed for users [ http://www.weeklystandard.com/sites/all/files... ] reads as follows:

"You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system. At any time, and for any lawful Government purpose, the government may monitor, intercept, and search and seize any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system. Any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system may be disclosed or used for any lawful Government purpose." [The sentence beginning "To continue" also appears again, but is only visible once on the page as displayed for users.]

It is unclear why these sentences appear in the code at all since they are not displayed, although the code may simply have been copied from another website that does use the full warning. In this case, the unwanted portion of the warning was rendered inert with HTML coding tags ("<!--" and "-->") usually used by programmers for inserting comments to explain the purpose of a section of code. However, the code can be rendered "live" again by simply removing those tags, in which case the full text would appear on the screen to users. However, it is unclear why the paragraph containing "no reasonable expectation of privacy" would ever have even been considered appropriate in this context.

The phrase "no reasonable expectation of privacy" is actually a stock phrase used in the terms and conditions of many government websites and information systems, but those who are entering personal, medical and financial information at Healthcare.gov may not find that fact reassuring. An email sent on Thursday, October 10, requesting comment from Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for the website, has not yet been returned.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obamacare...

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#2 Oct 14, 2013
Of course not. The government has no respect whatsoever for the privacy of it's citizens and usually hides behind the mantles of "security" and "protection". Those are, of course, codewords for control and manipulation. The biggest curse of a technological society is that the governments believe they are losing control and therefore, must control, all technology. The three branches of government no longer server the people of this nation.

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#3 Oct 14, 2013
PS: Congress and Obama didn't even want to take the time to read the written bill known as the ACA. Why would they want to know about, or provide any meaningful oversight, over the source code?
Arch on Larch

Detroit, MI

#4 Oct 14, 2013
Did it ever occur to you that they might be reusing code from other government sites?

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#5 Oct 14, 2013
Arch on Larch wrote:
Did it ever occur to you that they might be reusing code from other government sites?
Yes I did and that rarely works terribly well. It just imports errors, unnecessary information, and bad code in to a new location. While it is a common practice in many industries, it is not generally considered "best practice".
Demystifying liberal myth

Minneapolis, MN

#6 Oct 14, 2013
cantmakeitup wrote:
Of course not. The government has no respect whatsoever for the privacy of it's citizens and usually hides behind the mantles of "security" and "protection". Those are, of course, codewords for control and manipulation. The biggest curse of a technological society is that the governments believe they are losing control and therefore, must control, all technology. The three branches of government no longer server the people of this nation.
Closer to home, MNSure is being pretty close-mouthed about its operations.

MNsure is supposed to insure those Minnesotans who donít currently have insurance.

And like the White House, MNSure hasn't officially released its numbers yet. But the initial reports have focused exclusively on the number of accounts created - NOT the number of people who actually bought insurance - and NOT the number of those who previously were uninsured.

The question the Dayton administration needs to answer, soon, is just how many uninsured people have actually signed up for insurance for the FIRST TIME?
LIbEralS

Saint Paul, MN

#7 Oct 14, 2013
You get what you deserve when you don't look for a quality software developer for the job:

Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.

CMS officials are tight-lipped about why CGI was chosen or how it happened. They also refuse to say if other firms competed with CGI, or if there was ever a public solicitation for building Healthcare.gov , the backbone of Obamacareís problem-plagued web portal.

Instead, it appears they used what amounts to a federal procurement system loophole to award the work to the Canadian firm.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2537194...
LIbEralS

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Oct 14, 2013
CGI in Canada also suffered embarrassment in 2011 when it failed to deliver on time for Ontario province's flagship project a new online medical registry for diabetes patients and treatment providers.

Ontario government officials cancelled the $46.2 million contract after 14 months of delay in September 2012. Ontario officials currently refuse to pay any fees to CGI for the failed IT project.

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