Farewell, Internet Privacy

Two days ago, President Trump signed a law that legalizes the practice of selling our internet web browsing histories without our consent. The law applies to internet service providers and not to cloud based services like Facebook.

Even if we use the ubiquitous “Clear Browsing History” command, the internet service providers can still sell our browsing information to any one. And they can keep the proceeds of their sales transactions for themselves.

Isn’t it strange that the national press has been obsessed with the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and yet has virtually ignored the repeal of internet privacy provisions? Considering the fact that ACA repeal would have been phased in during an extended period of time, but internet privacy repeal is effectively immediately?

One could argue that the delivery system of health care services is far more visible to the general public than the delivery of internet services, and thus draws attention to itself more readily. But reasonably healthy people may rarely see their health care providers, whereas they check their mobile phones dozens (or even hundreds) of times per day.

It’s difficult to understand why the news industry has failed to focus its coverage on the legalization of sales of web browsing histories. Unless, of course, those very news organizations are considering the purchase of such data for their own marketing programs.

Spiderman Is Following Obama Care

Chalk up another defeat for advanced technology!

Last week, the producers of the Broadway mega-musical Spiderman threw in the towel. They announced that they will soon close the New York show and write off their huge losses, hoping to recoup some of their investment by launching a less expensive version of the play in Las Vegas.

Why did it fail? Some blame an uninspiring screenplay and a limp songbook. Many others, though, claim that the musical was “done in” by its own advanced technology.

The show utilized complex electronic equipment to help the super hero leap across the stage and soar over the heads of the audience. When it worked properly, it was spectacular. But when it malfunctioned, it inflicted terrible injuries on its cast.

The Affordable Care Act, of course, is suffering a similar fate. The Obama Administration authorized the development of a snazzy, sophisticated, and technologically advanced platform that is designed to attract many customers to purchase health insurance. But the malfunctioning web site has inflicted grievous harm on the prospects of the initiative.

At first glance, it may appear to be a stretch to compare Spiderman with Obama Care in any respect. Nevertheless, both the producers of the theatrical play and the developers of the health care site relied on (obviously) faulty technologies to please their audiences, only to find that those very technologies actually caused their downfalls.

Is there a lesson to be learned from their common experiences? Perhaps it is that advanced technologies may indeed do more harm than good when delivering human services. When the tasks involve lifting actors into the air or enrolling consumers in health insurance plans, sometimes it is wiser to rely on human beings to achieve our goals.