Since its opening earlier in the month, Healthcare.gov has been used by millions of visitors seeking insurance coverage. The amount of traffic resulted in delays or slow service to some applicants, and the United States government's expectations about how many people would use the system simultaniously were exceeded. Based on this alone, it could indicate that there's a significant demand for insurance coverage, as months still remain before people have to register.
However, even as U.S. citizens express interest in medical coverage, the government's other actions have created distrust in some individuals. The fallout from Edward Snowden's revelation that the U.S. was monitoring Internet activity resulted in a considerable amount of users turning to German email providers for their online messaging needs, according to Spiegel. Telecommunications provider Freenet experienced an 80 percent surge of members in the past three weeks, while web hosts like 1&1 and T-Online have witnessed a similar rise in new sign-ups.
According to experts speaking with the news provider, this may be because of Germany's more transparent privacy laws and the security efforts of its local providers. Both of these grant users greater assurance that privacy issues will be respected and their data protected. Spiegel noted that T-Online, GMX and web.de all encrypt emails sent through their systems and notify users before they send a message to accounts outside of the three company's networks. Along with these measures, Spiegel highlighted that data protection rules are more reliably enforced in the country.
While Germany's email protections primarily exist locally, many individuals outside of the country may be interested in stronger security measures for their own data, as well as heightened encryption to prevent unwanted viewing of sensitive information.
Issues also arise with Affordable Care Act website
The U.S. government has also experienced a number of problems with Healthcare.gov. High traffic volume and glitches have prevented many citizens for applying for insurance coverage, and while the system has been patched and server space added to minimize problems, some issues still persist.
The problems with Healthcare.gov may seem unrelated to the Snowden leak and shift to German email services, but the issues give the impression that the system may not be as secure as it should be. Writing on behalf of USA Today, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-MI, addressed this matter, noting that the Federal Data Services Hub used by the system was last tested two weeks before Healthcare.gov started operating. If insecure, the hub could expose social security numbers, employment information, birth dates and other important personal data about U.S. citizens – and the hub connects seven different federal agencies.
The opinion piece noted that with all of these records centralized, hackers could be a problem for the hub, and no details exist as of yet about the site's real-time readiness for potential data breaches.
Addressing trust and functionality issues
Due to the security issues relating to the Snowden leak and Healthcare.gov, certain services may be better handled by a third party. This could neatly answer some citizens' concern about privacy issues while also solving some of the government's lack of technical experience when launching major online initiatives. Linking disparate agencies provides greater convenience to citizens and reduces some of the redundancy arising from duplicated information across departments, but strong authentication and security measures are necessary to protecting this data. Working with an outside agency that's sensitive to privacy concerns could also resolve some trust issues that citizens have with government monitoring.