Friday, December 23, 2011

Who's watching Santa Claus?

This weekend, one of the world's biggest spies with one of the globe's sophisticated surveillance systems will be visiting Minnesota.  He is a huge "intelligence" gatherer of data on people.  He keeps lists.  I wonder if he has an enemies list or intelligence system?. He does "black bag" operations through chimneys.

But at the same time, many people invite him into their homes for milk, cookies, and a possibly a bit of peppermint schnapps to keep him warm.  Watch out he may be collecting data on you.

He is able to fly unimpeded through the air.  He is equipped with the latest GPS tracking equipment to observe people who may be "naughty or good".  There are also reports he may be getting a very sophisticated camera through the help of the Pentagon.  Somewhere up north, he has a very large computer detailing our moves and aspects of our lives, and labeling us as associates, persons of interest, and suspects.  Remember, he knows "where you are sleeping".  OH! OH! and HO! HO!

With the ability to monitor our actions and movements, he revels in having this ability.  Supposedly, he only uses it for good.

As I looked more into this character and his activities I could not find any GAO or Legislative Auditor reports. No reports on his activities or how he uses his surveillance system.  I could not find any legislative or Congressional hearing as part of the oversight process.

He has many informers and different ways which makes it easy for people to get on a "list".  I wonder what the threshold is for a person to get on the list.  I wonder how you got off the list.

I have learned a lot about this gentleman, and recently saw a "news report" by Ray Stevens, which is entitled, "Santa Claus is Watching You"

I encourage Santa Claus to be guided by the Fair Information principles:
  1. There must be a way for a person to find out what information about the person is in a record and how it is used.
  2. There must be a way for a person to prevent information about the person that was obtained for one purpose from being used or made available for other purposes without the person's consent.
  3. There must be a way for a person to correct or amend a record of identifiable information about the person.
  4. Any organization creating, maintaining, using, or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take precautions to prevent misuses of the data.
  5. Any organization creating, maintaining, using, or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take precautions to prevent misuses of the data.
These principles are good for a start, but Santa and his operations need more accountability, transparency, and openness.  Santa has a different view than a great number of other people how you achieve that.  There needs to be a checks and balances to his activities.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My privacy rights negated by "blackmail"

As I churn through my "early" autumn years of life, I am more apt to visit the doctor.  I did that today.  As I got to the check in desk I was given a single piece of paper and asked to sign.  I locked on to the words, "Notice of Privacy Practices"  I thought it was a form to sign to acknowledge understanding of the notice..  I felt there was no need to sign such a form.  And I stated that.

A few minutes later after some quick discussion by the clerk and someone else it was told to me, no signature, no service.  I said you cannot refuse service, and asked to speak with a supervisor.  Katie, her name was.  Right off the bat, she stated no service will be refused, but I would be treated as a self pay.  In other words, I would have to pay an upfront $150.  She then went to explain that the form was more than a notice, but an overall consent to share my medical information with others.

I then took a closer look of the "document".  It was a broad consent form to share my data with a broad range of parties for research, quality care reviews, and for other purposes outside for payment of my insurance and treatment.

I thought to myself ok.  I went through my "summer" years working on Minnesota medical privacy laws at the Legislature so I have an understanding of our law and what I think our rights are.

So I said to Katie, I will consent to the parts of the form that I think are appropriate, such as giving my information to third party administrators that help process the claims, to my health plans, and one or two others.  Her response, "You cannot do that."  It is either sign whole, or pay the $150 up front. Not having a major credit card nor $150 on me, my wheels started to roll.  I said you are "blackmailing" me in giving up my choice who I want my medical records to go and my rights which I am entitled by law to do.  To the best of my knowledge, I have always modified the consent forms in the past.

Direct and frank discussion continued.  I gave her rationale why this form is inappropriate.  She said in so many words:  Bottom line, no signature for the whole consent, or $150 for self pay, no $$$, no service.  I caved.  I needed to see the doctor.

So what happened.  My privacy rights which allows me to control where my medical records go was completely blocked.  I could not do a consent specifically only to this visit and transaction.  I had to sign a broad release form for possible visits in the future other than the one I did today and also to allow to have my data go to many places which is outside of my treatment and payment processes.

I told Katie I was interested to speak with their legal person on these matters or their privacy person.

Several hours later, I spoke to a person.  He is the head of the integrity and compliance of the medical/health service company.  Restated some of the points, but also hammering on the view that our state law allows choice to where are medical records go, but that we can also modify our consent forms to the single purpose of the visit.  

As someone in that position the gentleman wishes to listen to the patient, but he was also aware of my privacy advocacy background, independently, of me even saying anything.  It seemed he wanted to learn what was wrong in my view.  He brought up several times, this is a standard form.  Again I shot back, basically stating, it does not mean I give up my control over my medical data and give up my rights under Minnesota law.  He stated he was going to speak with their legal counsel and appropriate people and get back to me.  Stay tuned.

Link to the Minnesota Health Records Act

144.291Minnesota Health Records Act
144.292Patient Rights
144.293Release or Disclosure of Health Records
144.294Records Relating to Mental Health
144.295Disclosure of Health Records for External Research
144.296Copies of Videotapes
144.297Independent Medical Examination

Updated on December 24, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Public's right to know in danger in Minnesota?

What is the Dayton Administration trying to do with the public "right to know"?  I recently came across a summary sheet of the 2012 IPAD Policy bill.  IPAD is a division of the Minnesota Department of Administration and is the office that serves the public with questions on the Minnesota Government Data Practices.

The one pager has a listing of numerous proposals that can have a major impact on our privacy rights and how government can collect data on us, but also our ability to inspect public records.

One proposal is that the public will not be able to inspect the same public record if they had seen it previously in the last 6 months at a government agency.  It is under the umbrella of government reform and cost savings that the proposal is brought. Now government will have to keep track of people who ask for public data.  To be polite, the proposal is dumb for a number of reasons.

I encourage the Dayton Administration to review this specific proposal and others before it is put in a bill form to be introduced.  I have been pleased with the Governor's statements about open government and transparency, but some of the proposals run contrary.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Am I even being watched in the "can"?

I was in the Galtier Plaza Building this afternoon.  I had to use the bathroom facilities. I found it, but I had to buzz security to let me in.  Secondly, there was a sign posted which stated that the area is under surveillance.  When I got behind the locked door I was looking for the cameras or some type of surveillance item.  I was suspicious of an open ceiling panel which could be used for a cover for viewing.

As I contemplated possibly being viewed as I sat on the "throne", I thought of the law that Representative Macklin, now a judge, introduced and which I provided input on dealing with these kind of situations. Here it is:

So if the Galtier Plaza Building has a camera invading my privacy or other buildings which may have a similar set up, it may be against the law, if not the law should be corrected.