Friday, November 19, 2010

Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients

Stories like this one today at the WSJ disturb me.

Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients
Wall Street Journal
Nov. 19, 2010

From that story:

Life insurers are testing an intensely personal new use for the vast dossiers of data being amassed about Americans: predicting people’s longevity.

Insurers have long used blood and urine tests to assess people’s health—a costly process. Today, however, data-gathering companies have such extensive files on most U.S. consumers—online shopping details, catalog purchases, magazine subscriptions, leisure activities and information from social-networking sites—that some insurers are exploring whether data can reveal nearly as much about a person as a lab analysis of their bodily fluids.

In one of the biggest tests, the U.S. arm of British insurer Aviva PLC looked at 60,000 recent insurance applicants. It found that a new, “predictive modeling” system, based partly on consumer-marketing data, was “persuasive” in its ability to mimic traditional techniques.

The research heralds a remarkable [alarming? -ed.] expansion of the use of consumer-marketing data, which is traditionally used for advertising purposes.

Read the entire article.

The reason I find this article disturbing is that it can and probably should be looked at as another example of technophiles and opportunists with no knowledge of (or lack of caring about) Social Informatics, a decades-old discipline with a focus on studying the unintended consequences of new information and communications technologies (ICT's), enabling our society to move one step closer to centralized control.

Social Informatics (SI) refers to the body of research and study that examines social aspects of computerization, including the roles of information technology in social and organizational change, the uses of information technologies in social contexts, and the ways that the social organization of information technologies is influenced by social forces and social practices.

Stories such as the above WSJ story, and others in their running series on Internet privacy, also dampen my enthusiasm about the possibility that electronic medical information will be kept private, confidential and secure.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Sad ta say, but with the implosion of Communist Russia, about which the USA had nothing to do, the USA has become more like the then "bad guys". For the chroniclers of history, the USSR had huge debt and was fighting a war in Afghanistan when its fundamental government crumpled.

Scot M Silverstein MD said...

Anonymous says:

the USA has become more like the then "bad guys"

Our MSM ('mainsteam' media) now certainly sounds like the old Radio Moscow. I listened to Radio Moscow propaganda as a shortwave listener for laughs in my pre-amateur radio days.

-- SS

Anonymous said...

I too have often thought that once Communism collapsed we became more and more like what we then criticized: government spying on citizens, secret trials and show trials, etc. It is both horribly sad and horribly ironic.