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paul wheaton
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Yesterday I went in to get my blood tested. I've been sharing recently about how men tend to accumulate iron and that can lead to problems - and the solution is to donate blood and then you get superpowers.

The real challenge is the part where you are in the waiting room and the way you are processed.

About eight years ago I went in to get my blood tested and I knew that this was coming. I really don't like that part. I feel like here is how it should go:

"What is the name of the doctor that set this up?"

"White."

"And your name?"

"Wheaton."

"Paul?"

"Yes."

"Found it. All set."

They take the blood, test it and send the results back to the doctor. Done.

Eight years ago they asked for my birthday. I said "Are you hoping to send me a gift on my birthday? Because we only just met and I won't feel slighted at this point if you don't send me one. Maybe we can revisit this topic when we know each other better." "The computer is asking." "Well, I've never known a computer to send me a gift, so I really think that is pointless." Amazingly, she let it go!

Next question: "Are you single?"

I will confess that I was there to get my B12 levels tested. I am baffled at why my being single or not has anything to do with that or what possible reason there could be for asking. It isn't as if they need to say "Well, we have two 'paul wheaton' people in our records, so we need to know if you are the married one or the single one." Or maybe my blood is more dangerous to them if it is from a single person, because statistics show that single-people blood is more hazardous.

My answer: "oh my, are you asking me out on a date?"

"No. I am filling out the boxes for the computer."

"Well, I definitely don't want to do date a computer. And I think you don't want to hear my detailed reasons why."

I got the impression that the computer had a lot more questions, but I think she decided to leave a lot of the fields blank. A speck of blood was drawn and two days later my doctor told me the story about my B12 levels.

I like to think that I scored a victory for privacy for the masses through the process of being an obnoxious and annoying git - which seems to be a superpower I have.

- - -

Yesterday I needed to have my iron level tested. There were about seven people in this teeny tiny waiting room. The receptionist asked the woman in front of me for her birthday. I could hear every spec of personal information uttered. I felt like this is all information that I should not hear. But even more, I felt like the receptionist had no business asking. So, every person was subjected to the same level of disrespect.

And then it was my turn.

Eight years ago, the woman took me to a little private room to try to find out my personal information. This time we were in a public, cramped space with several people who cannot even show respect by moving away. I do not want to embarrass the people in the room, nor the receptionist who, like the woman eight years ago, has a job of filling in little boxes on a computer screen.

Afterward, Jocelyn told me that everybody in the room could tell that I was doing an excellent job of keeping my massive rage under control.

There were three people in line behind me and three people sitting in little chairs about six feet away. I felt that to be respectful to the people behind me, I should try to make the "transaction" with the receptionist go quickly. She found the doctor's blood test request, but still wanted to go over my date of birth, my address and a bunch of other bits and bobs she found in her computer about me.

On the bright side, this is Missoula. People in Missoula tend to be good at their job, and a Missoulian will look out for other Missoulians. So this woman was trying to be cheerful and lovely despite the obvious discomfort of the angry giant.

Having spent decades as a software engineer, I know that there is probably some hospital administrator somewhere that ordered a software engineer to collect waaaaaay too much information because they think nobody will care. And then you can "be sure". And even more: maybe someday you can analyze all this data and make wacky business decisions. And that dumbfuck administrator is not the person I am dealing with right now.

Which is why I did not say to the woman that my birth date and address did not need to be announced to the other six people in the room. Nor did she need to list off the tests I was getting. Or my phone number.

In fact, I think that out of the dozen bits of information that were shared with the other people in the room could have all been skipped.

In a PROFESSIONAL environment, my doctor could have given me a six digit code. I get there and share the six digit code, and they see that it comes from my doctor and what is to be done. The end. When the test is complete, it goes back to the doctor with the six digit code. The doctor can then connect it to "that giant doofus, paul wheaton" and everything is right as rain.

Hell, it can be even easier than that. The blood test request already has a date and all sorts of data about the doctor. And this could be the second blood test the doctor has set up for that date. So: date, doctor ID and the number 2. Done. Hell, you could add a CRC algorithm in there, mix in my name and generate three more digits, assume the doctor might do as many as 99 blood test requests in a day, and you have a five digit code complete with the ability to verify the uniqueness of the request and the person standing in line presenting the five digit code is the right person.

So, I show up and the receptionist asks for a five digit number, I say "34202" and she says "got it. have a seat."

Even better! My doctor gives me a piece of paper that says the date, the name of my doctor, "34202" and it has instructions on where the blood testing place is. Once I'm there, I hand the piece of paper to the receptionist. Not a word is uttered. She types in "34202" and sees the name of the doctor and the date - so that part all matches up fine. And there is the list of tests.

That seems professional. And respectful.

- - -

I cannot imagine going in to the good food store to buy a banana and being asked for my name, address, phone number, date of birth, etc. But I cannot help but think that if we just roll with so many organizations doing this, it will just be a matter of time.




 
Bill Erickson
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When I went to get my knee operated on a couple years back, I refused to tell them my social security number.
"Why do you need my social security number? I've provided you all with my insurance information and that I am me, you don't need that."
"But..."
"You are a nice lady who is doing her job, but I'm not giving you that number. Anything else you need to know that is pertinent to the matter at hand?"

I much prefer, "Hi, here's my paper with my code." or "Hi, here's my code."

 
paul wheaton
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Yeah, I have met too many people that have suffered from ID theft. One of them ended up going through the process of getting a whole new ssn. And they have lectured me at great length about how to NEVER give anybody your SSN. It is for tax stuff only!
 
Krista Marie Schaus
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You were far more tolerant that I would have been. I have been in and around the medical field since I was a child. (Grannie was a nurse who liked to bring me to work) I was also involved, years ago, in the creation of what is now the HIPAA privacy laws. And I am not tolerant of office workers who violate my right to privacy and then look at me like a wounded deer when I point out what they are doing is illegal. One office worked was so outraged at the suggestion that asking for my social security number in a crowed room might get her fined or sanctions against the Doctor, she stood on a chair and started reading my address and phone number loudly out to the room. The Doctor was very apologetic to me while he fired her.

I totally understand that sometimes it is just an office worker doing his/her job as they was trained to do. I usually start out very nice point out the current regulations and laws and that perhaps asking for additional HIPAA training would be helpful. That is usually when it all goes to hell. I have never understood why non medical office staff have such a god complex. You'd think they were surgeons. I mean it's not like I have a super common name like Paul Wheaton or anything. I happen to know that since that grandmother in winnipeg died last year, there is only one other Krista Schaus on this side of the globe. And I often wish that office managers were less hostile when I ask them to consider reading HIPAA and adapting better practices, rather than flagging my account "Don't Aggravate the Crazy Lady" so that my privilege is not violated, but continue to violate the privilege of the rest of their patients.

Stand up for your rights. Like it or not Paul you are leader of social change. You are trying to make the world a better place through example and education. Add HIPAA privacy to the list of things you aren't afraid to preach about. Unless we share our knowledge the sheep continue to suffer in ignorance.

I'm going to go put my soap box back in the closet.
 
Bill Erickson
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I like that, an apple for Krista.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I wish I had that superpower!
 
Burra Maluca
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I wish I had that superpower!


Tyler - you're a pollinator. You should be able to give out an apple a day. It's the button that looks like this , next to the report button.
 
paul wheaton
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Apple from me too.

I guess I'm really glad (knock on wood) that I rarely see doctors and that I've never needed to go into the hospital.

I think there are people that go very often and they NEED medical help RFN. So they will answer anything including the size of their dick just to get the help they desperately need. So while a person might be in the process of dying, that's a great time to subject them to some obnoxious survey about their favorite color, how much do they earn and did they really steal a cookie from the cookie jar when they were four.

 
Tyler Ludens
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No, I meant this superpower -
an obnoxious and annoying git
 
Joe Braxton
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I'm willing to give a little slack to health care workers (but only a little). What really gets me is when I go to purchase something (with cash), and they ask for my zip code or even my phone number. I know it's for "market research", so I am an unpaid guinea pig. The exchange usually goes like this: "your zip code?" ........"3"........(look of confusion)....."I'll just put in the store's"......."that's good"...
 
Dale Hodgins
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It seems that whenever I go onto the internet to check out the price of thingamajig, the thingamajig company has a box for me to click that says, "Will you allow us to track your movements." I always click deny.

I do allow Google to track my movements,  since I use Google Maps.
 
John Wolfram
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Joe Braxton wrote:I'm willing to give a little slack to health care workers (but only a little). What really gets me is when I go to purchase something (with cash), and they ask for my zip code or even my phone number. I know it's for "market research", so I am an unpaid guinea pig. The exchange usually goes like this: "your zip code?" ........"3"........(look of confusion)....."I'll just put in the store's"......."that's good"...

Glad to see I'm not the only one giving out false information to stores. I always tell them my zip code is 90210, and my phone number is 867-5309. I like it when the cashiers get both references.
 
Dale Hodgins
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My friend's real number is something67 5309. He chose it a long time ago. Many people dial it now without getting the song reference. He got some prank calls. I have told him that his number may have meant that he was cool in the early 80s. Now it means that he is old.
 
Cristo Balete
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Yeah, I guess we all know it's called datamining, and companies that are middlemen between our information and larger corporations that buy that information are making millions and millions of dollars off our information.

There's software being written to make conclusions about our information, and it's only 60% correct, and that misinformation is then sold and sold and sold and added to every time we use a credit card or put apps on our cell phones (that have permissions that datamine our information, and that's really the point of an app) or our cars that have electronics are keeping track of just about everything we do in that car. Every time we turn on the television that is connected to a cable, and I guess they all are now, what we watch, how long we watch it, how long the TV is on, how often we change the channel is being kept track of about us personally, not just in a general way.

http://www.geekwithlaptop.com/smartphone-apps-and-data-mining (smartphone apps)

There's something called sentiment software that makes conclusions about our emotions every time we "like" something online, or make a comment that involves a sentiment, what kind of mood we are in, what we prefer.

There are very few laws regarding the use of our information, particularly where we go (and buy gas with a credit card), where we make cell phone calls from, what we look up on the internet, what we buy on the internet, what we buy at the grocery store, how much we buy, how much we are willing to pay. That's what all those "club cards" are about. They are keeping track of everything we buy.

Our healthcare providers, insurance companies, mortgage companies, credit card companies, the government (just to name a few) are buying that information, whether it's correct or not. Apparently 60% accuracy is all that is necessary for these companies to conclude we have the potential for a disease, or we spend too much money, or we buy too much liquor, or we should have made that mortgage payment on time instead of buying that new boat, what kind of toilet paper we use and how often we buy it.

At least we can check our credit scores and see if there's information that's incorrect, especially if we have a common name. But we can never check our datamined information. We don't know what's out there, what conclusions are made about it, or if it's even the right person.

And just on the local level, I used to have a PO Box, but the person behind the counter would often ask me personal questions about the mail I received in the box, with many people in line behind me, many were neighbors, or knew me, it was a small town. Especially after 9-11 I was getting small packages because it was easy and cheap to find hobby stuff online, and the person asked in front of everyone, "Why are you receiving so many small packages?" and "You must do a lot of work for........." as they read the return address. I got rid of that thing in a real hurry.



Dale, got a good laugh out of that one!!
 
Mike Feddersen
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I always laugh at the so called "paperwork reduction act"
The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 requires that agencies obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval before requesting most types of information from the public. "Information collections" include forms, interviews, and recordkeeping requirements, to name a few categories.


Paperwork Collection

I was okay with the credit card companies needing some piece of information like my mother's maiden name,
but now it seems every time you do or redo a password they are asking more and more questions that are
putting the Conspiracy Theorist in me on high alert. But what do you do? Maybe we could do like the surrealist's
answer to "How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer= "Potato".
 
elle sagenev
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I went to get my birth control filled recently. Now those are uncomfortable questions. At least no one asks you the last time you bled out of your vagina. Anyway as she's going over that info I realized they had it all wrong. I'm not sure WHY they had my very old info but they did. I'd since changed absolutely everything and if they hadn't asked me those questions they would have sent the script to the wrong pharmacy with the wrong phone number and address on it and it would have been a total headache for everyone involved. I suppose they ask to make sure that doesn't happen.

Also, I thought they asked birth date so they did not confuse 2 patients with the same name. My maiden name is extremely common and there are a million people with it. Asking for birth date narrows down the John Smiths to THE John Smith they are asking for.

I've never been asked for social or anything in a waiting room though. That'd get a "no thanks" from me.
 
Chad Sentman
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Reminds me of a favorite joke:

A 65-year-old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk.

The receptionist said, "Yes, sir, what are you seeing the doctor for today?"

He replied, "There's something wrong with my dick."

The receptionist became irritated and said, "You shouldn't come into a crowded waiting room and say things like that."

"Why not? You asked me what was wrong, and I told you."

The receptionist replied, "Now you've caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear and then discussed the problem further with the doctor in private."
"You shouldn't ask people questions in a room full of strangers if the answer could embarrass anyone," the man said. Then he walked out and waited several minutes before re-entering.

The receptionist smiled smugly and said, "Yes?"

"There's something wrong with my ear."

The receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice. "And what is wrong with your ear, sir?"

"I can't piss out of it."

The waiting room erupted in laughter.
 
Nancy Troutman
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Frankly, I feel no inhibition against lying to computers. If the information seems reasonable and useful for whatever service I am requesting, I answer correctly. Otherwise, I make up a date on the spot. My real doctor only needs to know what year I was born in.

For those who are collecting information from me for information's sake, they get whatever I feel like telling them at the moment.

I dress plainly enough that some consider me Amish. When asked for a photograph at Sam's Club, I declined. I still got my card. When asked for a social security number, I say I don't have one. I suppose the fact that I look Amish helps there too. I am NOT Amish by the way.
 
Cristo Balete
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There is a trend lately, 2016, for retail stores to ask for a driver's license, usually to check for age for buying alcohol. Several retailers now require that we physically give them our driver's license so they can swipe it into the cash register and get the information off the strip on the back of it. That strip contains way too much personal information that is not required by law to buy alcohol. Retailers should never have your driver's license number anyway, nor a physical description of you, and your birth date. When I was asked to show one clerk my license -- and I am way over 21, so it was clearly not about my being old enough to buy alcohol -- he took my license out of my hand and swiped it without telling me that's what he was going to do. I was shocked, because usually they just look to check the date.

The cash register said in bold writing on it, "Ask if it's okay to swipe the license," and when I pointed that out to the clerk he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. He acted very guilty about it. Luckily my license didn't swipe, showed an error, and I left the beer there, and I won't be going back to that store, or any store that asks for a driver's license again.

Once we give retailers and websites permission to store our ID information in their databases, we have no control over it. Eventually all these sites will be hacked, and then your information is completely out of the control of whomever had it, and is beyond whatever they promised they wouldn't do with it. Protecting our Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers is crucial these days. If I catch myself saying, "But it's so convenient," that's where they get you, lure you into revealing too much. It's the Wild West out there, and we must protect ourselves. and not passively believe that somehow there are laws that will protect us, because there aren't.

Nancy, good for you for standing up for yourself.
 
Deb Rebel
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Years back, I had gone to college, and was on family medical insurance. I went to a particular hospital in town for my care. They had my current records. I had an account number, I knew it. Then I got married and had appendix go. In the wee hours of the morning I thought it was flu, and spouse and everyone went their way. Then I had to get to the hospital and couldn't find him phonewise. (days of landlines, dears). And couldn't get ahold of his sister, who lived in town. I called a cab and in a state of I couldn't even stand up straight without wanting to ralf my toenails up and pass out. The cab wasn't coming (week before Christmas, snow up to there and -20f, I wasn't walking 3-4 miles in my condition). Manager of apartment bullding came down to leave and asked why I was sitting there on the inner steps in parka. OH. He freaked slightly and said he'd take me. We get there. They have a freight dock and there was a semi there blocking the ER I am not kidding. I tell him pick any door. He does. In a haze I follow the red arrows saying 'Emergency' and found out later it was the farthest door from the ER. I get to there, tell them I think I've got acute appendicitis. Trying not to black out.

It's obvious something is wrong, and the nurse looked out and seen the semi was still in the way!  She got me into a room and gave me a clipboard with five pages both sides for me to fill out. Wasn't happening, I was barely conscious. I remember filling out name, addy, phone #, age, and wrote my account number nice and large across the next part and toss the clipboard on the floor. Nice and loud.

I am wavering at sit and about to fall off the exam table and nurse comes in and picks up clipboard and says YOU HAVE TO FILL THIS ALL OUT. I said I put my account number on it, it's all in there and it hasn't changed. And slump over and do a good unfocused STARE. She left. A bit later they had my file alright, and had set up the form for I gave them the right to examine me, do tests, and treat me. And I was responsible for the bill. I signed that and they countersigned it as witness.

They pulled blood. I was so close to blacking out for an Xray (I did actually flick out a couple of times) that the tech was standing behind me wearing lead and holding me to the plate and let go at the right second. Doctor seen me, and said due to the white blood count they were going to operate. I wasn't lying...

And y'know, they got along fine with simple indentification and the account/file number? This was decades ago too....
 
Deb Rebel
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ID for spraypaint, adult beverages or tobaccy. I'm used to showing mine. I have never had mine swiped through but it has been looked at.

Usually for spraypaint the home center has a sign at the paint department that says we card for spraypaint, be ready to show ID. Okay, I show it, they usually squint at it to get the birthdate/age and give it back. The register says 'ID Checked? Y/N" Okay I can live with it. Tobacco, same (I use it for killing slugs and other things). You wanna buy, just take out the license. Save hassle. Usually they do wave me off, I'm not young any more.

Adult beverage... I recently had a trip north and on my break one afternoon walked to a fabric store and collected a senior discount on a few things. Okay this is a new one. About three hours later, I stopped at a natural food store, and in the lobby/entry there was an adult beverage place, with a service counter inside store and a walk in door in the entry. I walked in, selected a bottle of toenail straightener, and went to register. He carded me. I handed it over. He handed it back and rang me up, and I lifted the hat I had on to show my frosting on top. He apologized and said we visually card to low 30's and I said well I thought it was a compliment, so thank you. Some places say we card to 40, so I guess I should be ready to flash the mug shot....

If the register said 'did you ask if it was okay to swipe the license' I would have paused about handing over and said NO and point at the register display first. And see what they'd do.
 
Peter VanDerWal
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When asked for a phone number, my wife just pulls out her cell phone and gives them the phone number from one of the recent SPAMers that called her.
 
James Freyr
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Lawmakers really get some things backwards and upside down here in Tennessee. Here it is required by law to card *everyone* making a beer purchase regardless of age. Doesn't matter how old and decrepit one may appear, the cashier is required to card them. Checking ID is not required by law purchasing liquor. Liquor store cashiers just use good judgement and card the whipper snappers and those blessed with youthful looks. Heh.....lawmakers.....
 
Stacy Witscher
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Around here, they swipe your driver's license/ID for certain cold medicines, the government tracks these purchases for meth manufacturing. Alcohol and tobacco usually just get a look.

As for medical, I have Kaiser, and all they want is your card or number, and ID, thankfully. But they still ask for all kinds of medical history when utilizing a new department. I've stopped filling these things out, because their records are probably better than my memory. I've had Kaiser almost all of my life.

I never feel bad lying to people who are asking for things they have no right or need to know.
 
Think of how stupid the average person is. And how half of them are stupider than that. - Carlin But who reads this tiny ad?
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