• Category Archives Work-related Thoughts
  • On the Internet, They DO Know If You’re a Dog

    OK, spooky tale (tail?), of interconnected databases, cross-connected service providers, and online data. Here goes:

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — Wait, wrong tale.

    The company that I work for provides health insurance. Not a bad policy, but as health insurance goes, getting more and more expensive every day. One of the “benefits” of said policy is the Wellness Program. Your incentive to make use of the Program is that the insurance company will not charge you an additional $300 per year. Some incentive.

    So I go to the Wellness Program web site. Create an account, sign in, fill in some information that is supposed to be normalized with everyone else’s information. That’s the easy part. The harder part is getting lab work done. Wife and I live a ways out of the big cities of the East Coast. Which means labs are a little harder to find, especially when they must belong to a specific service/chain. Alternative is to create an account with that specific service and get previous lab test results to send to the Wellness company.

    To create an account with the lab company, you must use Microsoft’s HealthVault service, which means using something to get into HealthVault. Either a Microsoft Live/Outlook Online account, or OpenID, or FaceBook. Never had M$ account, don’t play FaceBook, leaving OpenID. Supposedly if you have WordPress.com, you can use OpenID to authenticate into HealthVault. No-go, Microsoft won’t play with WordPress to accept authentication. So I grin and bear it, and create a Live ID. Easy enough. Then go back to the Lab company’s site and use the Live ID to log into the Lab site. Which then insists on asking me some questions to verify my identify.

    Here’s where it gets creepy…

    The Lab company’s website asked multi-choice questions to include 1) Which of the following streets have I NOT lived on, 2) What is the year of our RV (by chassis manufacturer’s model name, not RV name), 3) What cities have I NOT lived in, 4) What cars have I NOT owned.

    Somewhere, somehow, the Lab company’s site is linking into several other databases to verify specifically who I am. Not by SSN either, it only asked for the last 4 of that. Databases could have included vehicle registration of multiple states and property tax/home ownership of several states. And this is just so I can see the online results of my lab work, which isn’t current enough for the Wellness program…

    So if they’re connecting to so many databases, who’s managing, orchestrating, and overseeing these links and requests for information. And how different is this from what HealthCare.gov and its subsidiary state O-Care sites inter-link?

    Tin-foil hat(tm) anyone?