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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 9,131

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Google Violates Privacy Laws? Makes Up Their Own?

While checking my email I saw a message from Angie's List, of which I am an infrequent, nearly non-participating member. The message requested me to evaluate my visit with a doctor I had visited once, last year, at the request of Social Security.

Flabberghasted, I was perplexed at how Angie's List would appear to know I had completed an appointment with a local doctor about 5 months ago. I had Googled the doctor's name in order to obtain information including his office's phone number and address, but I had absolutely no online communication with his office. I do not recall having communicated with Social Security online. My mode of communication with them was via phone and mail.

I use Google quite a bit for research. I've probably google the names of hundreds, even thousands of entities every year. Having joined Angie's List early on, I hardly pay more than 14 dollars a year for membership. ( I find it useful for researching info about home maintenance. ) A couple of years ago I submitted a couple of reviews about my GP and a specialist. But these doctors have NO relationship to the Social Security employed medical doctor, nor has there ever been any record sharing.

Angie's List could have only 5 sources I can think of to obtain info which led them to ask me 'how did your appointment with Dr. X go?' How do you think they could have known I had an appointment with a doctor?

1. Through me informing Angie's list about my appointment.
*That did not occur.*

2. Through the doctor having contact with Angie's List.
*It's unlikely an MD who takes part time Social Security evaluations for
extra income would report appointments to Angie's List. Most physicians
have nothing to do with 'health grading' websites. Whether this MD tells
Angie's List about his patients I can't know. But I doubt it since
doing so would have been illegal. *

3. Through Social Security having some contact with Angie's List.
*It seems laughably unlikely that Social Security would be giving info to
Angie's List.*

4. Through the legal firm which represented my case.
*Besides myself, Social Security and the physician, only the legal firm
would have information about my case. However, legal firms do not
participate in Angie's list or advertise with them. As with the physician,
an attorney who would give out information about a client would be breaking
the law. *

5. Through my use of Google in researching information about the doctor's
CV, location, and office phone number ?

* This seems the most likely explanation so far. Being a Multiple
Sclerosis patient I have often googled for medical information.
And about 2 months ago I noticed adverts related to MS were
popping up for me all the time . I experienced a disconcerting
sense of being tracked all around the internet, even though I own
a MAC, use Firefox, dump 'cookies' all the time, and clean the cache.*

So, what do you think? I googled 'Google violating privacy laws' and found a suit against Google for violating privacy laws in the USA will begin in March:


I next googled ' google violating privacy laws HIPAA' and the following popped up:



Google Health and HIPAA

Unlike a doctor or health plan, Google Health is not regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law that establishes data confidentiality standards for patient health information. This is because Google does not store data on behalf of health care providers. Instead, our primary relationship is with the user. Under HIPAA, patients have a right to obtain a copy of their medical records. If they choose to use Google Health, we'll help them store and manage their medical records online.

Although Google Health is not covered by HIPAA, we are committed to user privacy and have in place strict data security policies and measures, and ensure that users control access to their information. We let users know what information we collect when they use Google Health, how we use it, and how we keep it safe. Users choose who views or adds information to their profile, and they can revoke access at any time.

There is no advertising in Google Health. We do not sell user health information, and we do not share it with other individuals or services unless a user explicitly authorizes us to do so, or in the limited circumstances described in our privacy policy. A user's personal medical records are stored in their secure account and cannot be accessed by others through a search on Google.com. Also, no personal or medical information stored in a user's Google Health profile is used to customize their Google.com search results.

The information below describes how Google Health's data confidentiality practices compare to those mandated by HIPAA.

For more information on Google Health's privacy practices, see our privacy policy.

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