The NSA scandal has me thinking a lot about how other PRISM identifying marks of us — on the biometric side — are, in fact, also poisoning our privacy.  Here’s a comment I made in a recent article thread concerning the loss of our biologic privacy:

Yes, we’re all stuck! The fact that they now want our weight is a new metric. Our height rarely changes, so once they have that number they have us in adulthood — but weight can fluctuate like crazy for some people — so having our weight “re-evaluated” and remarked down with every medical visit is an important identification portrait for them. All of our doctors now scan our insurance card and also take a photo of us — to prevent medical fraud — uhm…. riiiiight… so our MDs now have our mug shots, height, weight… quite a lovely new arm of the NSA, eh? Some doctors even want palm scans!

In my February 13, 2013 article — Obamacare Begins to Trickle Down — I wrote about the privacy changes we’re seeing in the doctor’s office under the new rules for Obamacare.  I now begin to wonder where, and why, exactly, all this biometric information about us — mugshots, height, weight, palms scans — is really being stored and used:

Doctors who used to rely on paper are now forced to evaluate you electronically via computer.  Your doctor will ask you a bunch of questions that are entered into a computer.  The patient-written paper screening is out, your doctor entering your responses on a computer is in, and the doctors are not thrilled about that!  The questions are endless.

You will also be weighed every time you visit any doctor — it doesn’t matter if you’re seeing your primary care physician or heart doctor or GYN or psychiatrist – you get on the scale, and they all deduct differing pounds for the clothes you’re wearing, so it’s possible to lose and gain seven pounds a day, just by visiting different doctors! ll your weights are measured by being entered into a computer. …

As well, if you haven’t been to the doctor yet this year, make sure you bring a photo ID and your insurance card because they will need to scan them into their computer system.  They will also likely take a photograph of you to accompany your patient file.

It’s chilling to think, even in the light of alleged HIPAA protections, that the government doesn’t already have a way to sort through our medical records to get an updated image of us and our current weight and blood work and other identifying physical ailments.  Is a local doctor really able to fight an NSA request when Google and Facebook cannot?

The government already has all your financial transactions and phone records and your social networking behavior stored and analyzed, but they’ve been missing the physical bytes of you — your private biometric bits — and now, with this new information being curated and stored by your local doctor’s office in online databases, the final rounding of your entire being begins to come into clear and sharper focus.

Now, let’s add this clarifying biometric mosaic of who and what you are — to the fact that schools and universities are also tracking your progress and your changing looks over time in yearly photo ID updates — and all that creates yet another matter of social networking insecurity.  You are your own glossary of who you are and who you have always been.

Many universities now associate your school photo ID with your name online in the private, online, faculty portal — so instructors and administrators can more easily put a name with a face — but I find it oddly disconcerting that social security numbers are no longer allowed to be an identifying metric for students, but the actual faces of students are just fine to use for wide-spectrum analysis.  Do we really think the NSA doesn’t have systemic backdoor access to those student photo ID and grade records?

Now that the NSA, and their PRISM ilk, have the most of us, the one thing missing from their incredibly accurate and precise portrait of us over time is how and why we think and process information.  Once they are able to write a computer program that will predict our minds and our routine behaviors, all will be lost, because then they will truly know more about us in the ordinary warp and woof of what we intend to be — and they can either mark signposts for us along that way, or thwart us at every single turn.  Playing along to get along will be the new duty to flag and honor, and they’ll make dead certain claims that our blood obeys their wishes, or we’ll be boiled from the inside out.


  1. Very chilling thoughts indeed. I know they say if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to hide – BUT lets take my own nemesis – weight – a matter that gets me highly defensive and I have always struggled with. Now I have no problem with my personal doctor knowing this ……….. he knows me , he knows my history he knows my struggles – but anyone else knowing it and making predictable judgements about it ………… no thank you. My weight is my problem and mine alone. It ha nothing to do with my eyes or my teeth ! I still have a joke – a catoon , where the woman gets off the “speak your weight” scales and says I should be six feet tall …..

    1. I agree! These sorts of biometric identifiers must be kept private between patient and practitioner. To violate that trust now is a horrible idea, but it looks like that’s where the world is heading — all in the name of anti-terrorism and public safety. The only way to counter that is to never take notes or make an official report — otherwise, the data is there to be mined.

      We live in false protections. We think we’re safe. Behave. Do the right thing. We won’t be in trouble — but there’s still a serious threat of nefarious others… countries… agencies… etc… acting without your permission or knowledge to manipulate, and change, data that is identified as yours even thought none of it may belong to you after the exploit. So a false breadcrumbs trail can be planted, and gardened on your behalf, to set you up to drag you down — and how could you ever argue against it in court — it’s all there despite your denials. You’ll never figure out what hit you. It’s your very goodness and false trust in an unsavory and corrupt system that will create this personal doomsday/blackmail/anarchist scenario. We’ll be a nation of Lee Harvey Oswalds. Patsies awaiting at the ready.

      Love your joke cartoon! So perfect! SMILE!

  2. There needs to be a line drawn about what data can and cannot be collected – sadly I think we are way past my comfort line. it is a nightmare scenario – it is Minority Report in the making.

    1. We have rules and regulations, but they don’t seem to matter when it comes to your own government who wants to know about you — it’s the price we pay for being a citizen in a developed country… I guess…

      I have a feeling Minority Report is just the blueprint being used to suggest how a perfect government would be run… from the agency perspective.

  3. define “developed” – I notice you did not say civilized ………………………………

    Minority report …… 1984 .Brave New world …………………… we need to make sure we never loose our free speech

    1. Ha! Definitely not civilized.

      Here’s a fun list of developed countries — “developed” as in “trade” as in “business:”

      Free Speech is being challenged all around here in the USA as the highest act of treason!

      Members of Congress seem to be playing a game of one-upsmanship in their increasingly hawkish reactions to the NSA leaks. Democrat Dianne Feinstein said whistleblower Edward Snowden committed an act of treason, and now Republican Peter King has decided that any journalists who reported the information leaked by Snowden should face criminal prosecution.

      Anderson Cooper asked King if he thinks journalists revealing this information should be targeted. “Do you believe they should be punished as well? King said that they unequivocally should, and though he didn’t mention any specific names, he was mainly referring to Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who printed exclusive after exclusive with more information on government surveillance programs.

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