Kushner's COVID Task Force Is Looking To Expand The Government's Surveillance Of Private Healthcare Companies

from the move-fast-and-break-privacy dept

Jared Kushner’s shadowy coronavirus task force is still at work behind the scenes, bringing this country back to health by leveraging Kushner’s innate ability to marry into the right family. Very little is known about it and very little will be known about thanks to the task force’s decision to run communications through private email accounts.

Kushner’s focus appears to be the private sector — the same area his father-in-law appears to be most worried about. The curve has yet to flatten, but Trump and Kushner want to make sure companies remain healthy even if their employees aren’t.

It appears Kushner is now branching out into the public sector. The private sector will be involved, but as the target for a new strain of surveillance, as Adam Cancryn reports for Politico.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s task force has reached out to a range of health technology companies about creating a national coronavirus surveillance system to give the government a near real-time view of where patients are seeking treatment and for what, and whether hospitals can accommodate them, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.

This information will be used to determine where resources might need to be allocated. It will also be used to make judgment calls for social distancing and “stay at home” orders, with an eye on getting companies back up and running as quickly as possible.

What the task force is pushing for is relaxed rules on data sharing by private health companies.

[T]he Trump administration has sought to ease data-sharing rules and assure health data companies they won’t be penalized for sharing information with state and federal officials — a move driven in part by Kushner’s push to assemble the national network, according to an individual with knowledge of the decision.

To do this, the administration is likely to lean on its favorite weapon against privacy: national security. There are exceptions built into health privacy laws that make it easier for the federal government to demand access to this data. If the task force can sell the pandemic as a national security crisis, the government will be able to peer into multiple databases and do whatever it wants with that data. And it will be able to do so for as long as it wants, so long as it can claim the threat is still present.

The thing is there’s no need to reinvent the surveillance wheel… unless the additional layer of surveillance is actually what the administration wants, rather than a targeted response to health care needs.

Some public health experts, meanwhile, suggested that the administration might instead build out and reorient an existing surveillance system housed within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that aided the response to prior epidemics. The system, called the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, is a voluntary collaboration between the CDC and various state and local health departments that draws data from more than 4,000 health care facilities.

While there may be some short-terms gains from adding another level of health care surveillance, the inherent problem is rolling back that surveillance once it’s no longer needed. Americans may be more agreeable to additional government snooping during a short-term crisis, but they’re less willing to look the other way when the threat to the nation has passed. The government, however, generally doesn’t care what the people want. If it has found some self-serving uses for this increased access, it will keep the access and say enough stuff about national security threats to defeat attempts to scale things back to their pre-COVID levels. We saw this with the 9/11 attacks. And we may see it again with this unprecedented pandemic.

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Comments on “Kushner's COVID Task Force Is Looking To Expand The Government's Surveillance Of Private Healthcare Companies”

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let’s start with the attempts to either privatize via regulatory capture, reduce the power of, or outright destroy government agencies like the EPA and the FCC. We can work our way to gerrymandering and voter suppression next. Then we can get to shit like Republican state legislatures doing everything they can to ensure minority rule — for example, yanking power away from incumbent Democrat governors (which happened in North Carolina, for one solid example).

The GOP doesn’t want a government…or, at least, not a government like we have now. It wants a monarchy at the bare minimum (and a Christian theocracy at the worst). Republicans don’t want to govern. They want to rule. And they will do whatever they can, in increasingly brazen and near-unlawful ways, to gain and hold onto that power. Or did you not see what happened in Georgia during the midterms?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But thats the thing, none of that is shrinking the government. Regulatory capture isn’t shrinking anything the size of the government hasn’t gone down any just because it’s working for GOP friends instead of for the public..

Regulatory capture is not shrinking anything, they are laws to try to cheat the market
Gerrymandering is just cheating the election and not shrinking the government..

A monarchy or theocracy is not smaller than a democracy. Smaller government is at least an honest goal even if I might disagree with it. The only actions I see from the GOP are trying use the government to cheat people out of things and give to themselves and their friends.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How can one determine the size of government?
Is it based upon the amount of money they collect, the size of the population, GDP, size of military, size of penis?

Maybe it is like when they try to define a budget. There is so much off balance sheet spending that it is impossible to have a budget much less balance it.

The term is pretty much useless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t believe in the “government so small you can drown it in a bathtub” ethos that drives the GOP.

That’s okay. Despite their rhetoric, they don’t believe in it either. They want it just small enough to benefit them and don’t care about you. For any given "them" and "you".

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They don’t want it smaller overall, they want it smaller wherever it benefits them by extension of the particular businesses that are in bed with them and bigger where it benefits them in the same way. You sure don’t see them pushing to make any copyright crap smaller or anything to help small business disrupt the big players. Clear laws out of the way of the oil industry, but put new ones in the way of the tech industry, etc. Certainly nothing as honest as an overall "small government" agenda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“government so small you can drown it in a bathtub”

Had not heard that one, but it seems fitting. I had heard about the government so small it could fit in your vagina.

They only seem to be interested in small government when they are not at the wheel. Well, they’ve got the wheel and the flood gates are opened. Party time at the gop!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Vaccine surveillance

What is vaccine surveillance?

Is it like the Fantastic Voyage? Would there be little submarines with cameras navigating the human body to monitor the activities of the vaccine? This sounds pretty cool but I doubt we presently possess the required technology, especially the shrinking part.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It is, but the question is does it need the additional surveillance from the government when there are already systems for this purpose in place? Then there are the questions of additional risk that the new surveillance won’t stop when the crisis is over, and the competence of Kushner and his secret task force, what are their real intentions? Why is it secret when the emergency is national and impacts everyone?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

A site that supports free speech which censors me loses ALL credibility.

Subjective attacks on the speaker or the speech only prove why those who censor should not be credible, but it’s not easy to warn your audience if they can’t see the warning, is it?

The question, then, is where will the rebuttals appear? You lose control over that when you censor.

If ONE more "moderation" method appears here the search will begin for an alternate site that will actually take time to debunk what is written here, and connect the dots to see "cui bono?"

Anonymous Coward says:

‘Trump and Kushner want to make sure companies remain healthy even if their employees aren’t’

oh, so typical of every Conservative based government, regardless of which country it’s in! make sure the bosses are in tip top shape, getting plenty of money, health insurance, pension benefits and anything else possible while the workforce are suffering at every turn!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"while the workforce are suffering at every turn"

You see this thru out history, leader is known for all the great things accomplished by the populace … who did all the slaving and got none of the accolades. The torture and death of thousands of peasants is no big deal to these monsters.

Rinse, repeat.

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