Sure, the fact that our government collects electronic information on its citizens (while simultaneously “misplacing” millions of taxpayer’s personal information) might be creepy. . . But it’s just the beginning. For all the outrage over the NSA’s data collection program, PRISM, there is a curious amount of apathy regarding Obamacare’s egregious violation of personal privacy. In the typical fashion of statists, big government liberals and nanny-state progressives, Obamacare will do more than cater poorly to your health insurance needs; it turns out, the program will also be one of the largest harvesters of personal information ever attempted by the government.
According to a regulatory notice, filed by the Obama Administration in February, the Health and Human Services Department will be creating a new “system of records” on anyone with direct, or peripheral, contact with Obamacare exchanges. According to Investor’s Business Daily, the system will store names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, taxpayer status, gender, ethnicity, email addresses, telephone numbers, as well as tax return information from the IRS, income information from the Social Security Administration, and financial information from other third-party sources.
The system will also collect the employee tax ID numbers of anyone who is employed by a company which purchases coverage through the exchanges.
Even more audacious is the way in which the government has given itself the authority to disseminate this information in any fashion they see appropriate. The filing says the Federal Government will have the right to disclose this information “without the consent of the individual” to any contractors, consultants, grantees, law enforcement agencies, or businesses that are deemed necessary in implementing Obamacare. No warrants or individual consent needed.
This is an unfathomable amount of personal data that will be precariously “protected” by the same kind of government incompetence that recently “leaked” tens of thousands of taxpayer records from the IRS. (The Social Security Administration has also admitted it accidently released tens of thousands of social security numbers, names, and birth dates to unauthorized entities.) At least in this case ID thieves won’t have to piece meal an identity together. Everything except someone’s High School yearbook will be on file in one convenient location.
Issues of accidental disclosure aside, the data collection – compiled largely behind the scenes by the same type of government bureaucrats that run the IRS and DOJ – pinpoints a very real deterioration of individual liberty. Anonymity is vital for personal freedom. Government record keeping of non-criminal activities, however benevolent it is designed, is the linchpin for eventual government control. Anonymity provides a much needed layer of protection between individuals and the political class. The lack of anonymity facilitates corruption, abuse and political cronyism.
For as much as the Occupy Wall Street crowd, and college liberals, rail against “crony capitalism” they seem just fine with crony democracy. Big government breeds cronyism. Millions of Americans will have their entire existence outlined in a government file – and that file will be given to companies, agencies, and departments at the sole discretion of HHS. The cronyism, regulatory nature, and deterioration of privacy inherent in Obamacare exemplifies everything those 20-something year old college students say they hate about big business. Except, in this case, the average citizen can’t simply take their consumer spending to an alternative. The oppressive abuse of government lies in its monopolistic nature.
The reason the NSA scandal was front page news, is because Americans are generally skeptical of government surveillance. Political abuse, cronyism, and government overreach are made possible only by the government’s ability to monitor and regulate an increasing percentage of the average American’s life.
This is one more reason we should scrap the bill: Any data collection effort that makes the NSA’s attempt look like Google AdSense software should send chills down our spines. Obamacare is more than bad policy, it runs contrary to the American idea of individualism.