Bad news. Our government values your private identity even more than you do because there are so many things it can be used for including collecting taxes, tracking your personal health information, and yes, buying firearms. When it comes to your personal information, can bureaucracy guard what it grabs?
How many government databases do you need to be in?
Instead of worrying why your private identity information needs to be stored in government databases, the real question is why Washington keeps acquiring personal data when it admits it has problems using what it already has.
You probably have a pretty good idea how safe the components of your private identity are once they are collected, tagged, and socked away in some federal information depository. As far as security goes the numbers are probably on your side because your personal information has lots of company. Our federal and state bureaucracies are against you, though, as they seize more private information despite their famous inability to guard anything, from data to tax dollars.
Tax return fraud
Who will spend your refund this year? Just think of all the hours you could save if you knew that someone else was filing your taxes. As you wade through stacks of IRS forms, consider this warning from the Government Accountability Office:
As of September 30, 2012, IRS had identified almost 642,000 incidents of identity theft that impacted tax administration in 2012 alone, a large increase over prior years.¹
As with most crimes involving identity, our government’s tax collecting agency doesn’t know the extent of tax return fraud.² What it does know is that filing your taxes means risking the theft of your identity and personal information (see: Pay Your Taxes, Waste Your Money and Risk Your Identity?).
Suppose you do get that fat IRS check and decide to use it to purchase a firearm?
New gun regulations mean accessing more personal information
Do we really need to threaten Americans with another bill requiring government to manipulate their private identity? We already know that the debate over gun regulations is a partisan political stunt, a knee-jerk response to violent tragedy. Considering we are unable to accurately verify employment eligibility and can’t keep track of foreigners to whom we issue visas, can anyone except a politician believe that slapping a label like “Safe Communities, Safe Schools” on a bill is going to mean a government database will keep us safe from violence?
Will Obamacare grab your personal health information?
Before the Affordable Care Act became law Joe Biden announced over $1 billion in grants to states to include personal health information in “an emerging nationwide system of networks.”³ Given Washington’s inability to administer technology and its dire warnings about cybersecurity breaches (see: The Real Cyber Threat is From Politicians and Bureaucrats), do we want our medical records to be chaperoned by big government, which just passed a federal health care bill but assures us that a national database won’t be necessary?
The approach that we describe requires that there be a common infrastructure for locating and assembling individual elements of a patient’s records, via secure “data element access services” (DEAS).4
Obamacare’s Medicaid explosion means that many Americans will be sucked into the federal health care system and become ensnared by agencies that boasted over $63 billion in bad payments last year.5 There is nothing secure about anything the government is involved with when it comes to data. How far behind are our health care entitlements when it comes to information technology? The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology warned that:
While we have not investigated these issues further, it seems likely to us that a complete overhaul of CMS’s IT infrastructure will be needed in the foreseeable future, not because of future health IT requirements but simply for it to comply with existing legislative mandates.6
Medicare and Medicaid may not live up to Congress’s IT mandates, but fortunately there are two vital areas where your personal information doesn’t matter. More on that on Friday.