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Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy 486

jfruh writes "Larry Page revealed that he'd been suffering from a vocal cord ailment that impaired his ability to speak for more than a year. The positive feedback he got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance. 'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."
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Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:38AM (#43748595)

    ... for some fishy reason if it gets out he has some "scary disease" or won't work as efficient anymore. Or might drop out at any time for a week.

    And it is also not that his penis had a malfunction or something.

    I think Larry Page generalises too much, has too much of an agenda, hasn't gotten that not everyone follows the same religion, needs to shut up and retire so he can spend his money on philantropy. I like Bill Gates much more since he stopped babbling his technology-and-business-bullshit and actually put the billions fate threw at him for something useful.

    Larry Page isn't getting a third of what he thinks he got.

    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:44AM (#43748631)

      Indeed "The only reason to worry about medical privacy is the GIANT FUCKING ELEPANT IN THE ROOM that can potentially TOTALLY SCREW OVER the vast majority of people in the country" And the rich wonder why people think they're out of touch.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 )

        'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' Larry Page said."

        Yes, we can have the rules changed, but then, they too can change the rules

        If we are too force the insurance to accept all people, they can make their insurance policy so expensive that only the rich can afford

        After all, who is in business to make a lost ?

        • by gumbi west ( 610122 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:09AM (#43748769) Journal

          Starting in 2014 in the US, this will be the law of the land--companies will have to insure anyone, regardless of existing conditions. It is also the law in MA right now.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:24AM (#43748843)

            and, as he points, out, the insurance will not be affordable and additionally many of the plans will actually end up being inferior to what many had before.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by rednip ( 186217 )

              the insurance will not be affordable and additionally many of the plans will actually end up being inferior to what many had before.

              So says the 'chicken little' AC. Next year we'll find out if everything the GOP has been claiming for the last 5 years is really true. I believe that they will be proven wrong while millions of Americans who had pre-existing conditions will be able to find coverage at normal cost and many thousands will not lose coverage in the middle of an illness. While many millions more American will find better coverage, many at significant savings than they would have paid previously.

              Meanwhile, the medicare cuts ma

              • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:38AM (#43750423) Homepage

                It doesn't matter if it's true or not. What matters is companies use it as an excuse to fuck over their employees. My wife and a few of my friends have all seen their coverage decline over the last year to "get ready for expected increases in insurance costs". Companies see this as an excuse to fuck over their employees and employees blame it on obama.

                • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @10:11AM (#43751775) Homepage Journal

                  Yes, but another aspect of the law is that insurance companies(as of late 2012) have to submit explanations to the feds for every increase in premiums. And(in 2013) they cannot make more than 20% profit. And their overhead has to come out of that same 20%. 80 cents out of every dollar you pay for insurance has to go to actual medical providers or medicine.

                  What that does incentivize is really high premiums, and insurers choosing expensive procedures in order to maximize how big that 20%. What the whole package is predicated on is that the buyers will choose a different plan if insurance companies go too far in that regard(hence the exchanges). It's not perfect, but it's the best we could manage in the political situation.

                • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
                  Insurance needs to be decoupled from industry. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage and it makes coverage worthless when you really need it, since you can't work when you are in the hospital.

                  Single payer is the only system that makes sense, even discounting the huge savings inherent in such a system compared to our current system.
            • by Stormthirst ( 66538 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @07:33AM (#43750393)

              So do the decent thing America and get a socialized healthcare system

            • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:01AM (#43750541)

              Although it's possible some providers may try offering inferior plans, the fact that it is still a free market (contrary to the 'socialist' cries from the the fringe elements), any provider offering substandard plans would quickly find themselves left in the dust or heavily penalized if they tried to gouge customers. The affordable health care act requires that all applicants of the same general age and geographical location be offered the same premium costs, meaning any spikes due to pre-existing conditions will be averaged across a large number of individuals, which also includes a large number of health individuals which will balance out those spikes. Providers will also have to reinvest a set amount of profits into consumer benefits rather than profits, meaning the increased customer base doesn't necessarily mean they will get rich. There are indeed some good protections in the act that are consumer friendly.

              Those who try to gouge customers will also be barred from getting into the healthcare exchanges and the customers that those exchange will provide. Such companies will also be monitored by the HHS, DOJ and FTC, who will in turn report such gouging to the local states to see if the price hikes were 'justified', and can have penalties levied against them if they are found to be gouging. The information will also be published to the public. Such information would create a very black eye for any reputable company. Pharma and medical equipment manufacturer's are also covered under that provision.

              In short, gouging from the insurance industry is not very likely, and can be promptly addressed at the federal and state level if needed.

              Those who fall into poverty ranges (up to 138% of the poverty level) will receive assistance in paying for premiums, although they will have to contribute within their means. It's a fair system IMO.

              The act also makes it easier for smaller businesses (50 employees) to offer health care coverage via the same exchanges as well as help wit subsidies from the government to help reduce their premium costs), where previously they had no such option (all or nothing type of situation).

              As to Larry, his statement speaks volumes about the disconnect of the rich from the poor. Prior to health care reform, admitting you had a pre-existing condition virtually guaranteed you would never find coverage, or that such coverage would be excluded with a rider to your policy, making coverage largely pointless for those with a condition requiring regular treatment.

          • by JLennox ( 942693 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:32AM (#43748879)

            MA is not doing anyone favoures.

            Unless a company buys you health insurance you can only enroll in July. In the mean time they will penalize your already high state taxes for every month you do not have insurance. Keep in mind it's not a 'fine,' thatd be unconstitutional!

            The logic behind this is people with no insurance avoid going to the dr, their ailments turn into bad conditions that they must get treated, then skip out on the bill. This money supposedly compensates for this.

            Health insurance is, how ever, prohibitely expensive so they push high deductible plans for 300/month. High deductible plans... You mean the sort of insurance that causes people to avoid the dr?

        • by dhasenan ( 758719 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:47AM (#43749455)

          Nationalized healthcare solves this problem. For-profit corporations have no business in health insurance.

      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @08:32AM (#43750759) Homepage

        The cost of medical services is not merely out of control. It's beyond comprehension.

        Let's look at this from a consumer standpoint. Let's imagine you're a rich person and do not need insurance and will pay for everything in cash. You bought your last car with pocket change. In every case (with a minor exception of the mobile phone bill) you know exactly what you will be paying and why. It seems only the medical industry never tells you exactly how much everything costs along the way.

        No one [normal] would go to a restaurant and order off the menu without knowing what the prices were, so imagine being unable to know what you will spend the next time you go to McDonald's... or the grocery store... or anywhere.

        There is no negotiation and no fore knowledge of what the bill will cost. It's insanity. And the industry says "it's okay... don't worry about it... let the insurance company worry about that, you just pay the co-pay." Meanwhile, the insurance industry loves this because they get more and more customers. These two sytems are designed to abuse the ignorance of the consumer and to keep them blind. When you think about how unacceptable this would be anywhere else, you have to wonder how this insane system came to be as it is.

        • When you think about how unacceptable this would be anywhere else, you have to wonder how this insane system came to be as it is.

          Here is the in-depth answer [] if you're interested. I usually get shot down for posting this link here on Slashdot because it doesn't comport well with the groupthink on health care, but if you honestly want to hear a good economic argument explaining why health care in the United States is so expensive instead of the same old "greedy insurance company" canards, it's probably worth your time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:03AM (#43748749)

      No kidding. I'd love to see how little medical privacy meant to him if he had a mental illness and was looking for a job and housing. Medical privacy laws don't exist because we're all bashful. They exist because people have been persecuted and discriminated against for medical and mental health issues.

      • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:16AM (#43748807)

        Not just mental illness - which is already overly stigmatised. But what if you had early symptoms or markers for degenerative diseases such as early onset Alzheimer's or something similar.

        I was recently diagnosed with cancer that was triggered by an auto immune disease. I've had surgery and my prognosis is extremely good, but there's lots of cancers out there with a high probability of reoccurring.

        My sister has a related auto immune disease but got juvenile arthritis instead. MY husband suffers from extreme chronic obstructive sleep apnea which was initially mis-diagnosed as a mental illness and then epilepsy as his symptoms escalated while we searched for a correct treatment.

        I'm not sure the first thing I would say to a prospective employer is that I've had cancer, anymore than they should be able to ask whether we intend to have kids.

    • See, this is one of the reasons why we in Europe have public health care: your fate and health depends less on people that actually have an interest in not helping you when need it; ie, insurance companies.

      I don't know about Larry Page - to me he is just another suit that got lucky. I have worked in software engineering for over 20 years, and I have never worked out why people like him are admired; they are always shallow, sometimes embarrasingly ignorant about things and a bit deficient, morally and otherw

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

        While I agree in some respect he got lucky, I'm also pretty sure he knows a LOT more about the technology behind what his company does than you or I. He and Sergei Brin weren't "suits" who sold ads, they were Computer Science PhD students at Stanford who invented many of the early concepts behind Google's core search engine.

        Sorry, but the broad generalizations and assumptions you just made about non-Europeans, successful businesspeople, and Larry Page in particular in your post are much more shallow, igno

        • ... the broad generalizations and assumptions you just made ...

          I was talking about my experience - rather than making sweeping generalisations. Here's an example: Not long ago I wrote a long report about some technical matters, 100 something pages. I used OpenOffice, and I always turn off spell check etc, because most of the words are not in the dictionary anyway. I handed it to a manager, who felt that he needed to put me down for whatever reason - so he ran a spell check and found 1 genuine spelling mistake. Just 1 - but this was apparently a major issue, and one of

    • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:56AM (#43749007)

      Well, he's not afraid his company might fire him..

      He is also in the data business. If the government started enforcing privacy regulations his company might end up liable. There is also a big potential profit in getting ever more specific information about you that can be used or sold. Getting medical data to mine is a huge win on many levels.

  • by Taantric ( 2587965 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:39AM (#43748601)
    In the financial trading industry we have a term for those pundits who come on Bloomberg or CNBC and give advice on markets, stocks etc - they are talking their own book. So If they are extolling the virtues of a stock or a currency it usually means they are holding a large position in it themselves. Here we see Ole Larry talking his own book. These assholes would have you bare your entire life for them so they may sell you more shit you don't need. Fuck you Larry Page and Fuck you Google.
  • Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:40AM (#43748609)

    The only reason to worry is to be insured? How about not being discriminated against in all kinds of areas (namely job hunting)? How about not pissing off a girlfriend when you have to clear up a STD from an Ex or a bad decision? How about not wanting the family to know you have a terminal disease?

    There are many reasons we want to keep our health issues private. I'm not going to discount that being able to talk to someone is helpful, but that is not even close to making them available to everyone all the time.

    • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:48AM (#43748651)

      Both Larry and Sergei are no longer connected with reality.. I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

      • by Mitsoid ( 837831 )

        I would tend to agree.. I love what they've done.. But their 100% job security (alone) makes their viewpoint skewed (not necessarily bad.. just different)...

        They no longer have to worry about potential employers accessing their facebook/g+ account.. or their potential employment.. or ability to pay for things (like insurance)... I've gone through and sanitized (deleted) my accounts with services twice over the last 5-6 years to help make sure i leave less footprints for the future... I'm sure their understa

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Both Larry and Sergei are no longer connected with reality.. I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

        I would add Eric to the list as well. There must be something in the water at Mountain View. Or maybe Google has a RDF [] that's more powerful than Apple's. Something very bizarre is coming out of their mouths.

        Perhaps it's what happens when one is a Glasshole []?

      • I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

        That can happen when you rise to the heights of power [] in politics, or stand on really large mountains of cash [] in industry, or take up residence in much of academia.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        Both Larry and Sergei are no longer connected with reality.. I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

        which is kind of funny.

        imagine having all the data in the world but being disconnected from reality still.

        • Both Larry and Sergei are no longer connected with reality.. I don't begrudge them anything, but they are seriously in outer space.

          which is kind of funny.

          imagine having all the data in the world but being disconnected from reality still.

          The problem is they have tons of cash. When you become that rich you end up bypassing the crap that the little people have to deal with as you can always pay someone else to deal with that for you.

          He does not have to worry about ever being refused health insurance or the exorbitant cost of it as he has no sense of perspective when it comes to money any more.

    • Opening up all the statistical information contained in the medial records of the entire population could certainly be a massive benefit to the whole of humanity.

      The usefulness of the information comes from the flexibility that comes from being able to look at the data is any number of ways.

      Then again, companies can already get a limited view of your medical condition by looking at what you spend your money on. Aged between 20 and 40, are female and are buying baby clothes, cots, push chairs and lotion on y

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        Opening up all the statistical information contained in the medial records of the entire population could certainly be a massive benefit to the whole of humanity.

        Huh? Name one benefit, just one. And no! Marketing information for some company is not a benefit to humanity. There is no benefit to opening up medical records for anyone to review. Maybe to some other species we have yet to meet, but sure as hell not to humans.

        You currently go to a doctor that has your history and can make decisions based on that history. If you change doctors, you need to approve a form allowing the transfer of your old records to the new doctor. I think that your current doctor sh

        • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:20AM (#43748833)

          Large scale statistical models with accurate information about medical conditions could potentially assist in planning for future health care requirements and research funding. However for all the reasons mentioned elsewhere in this thread, it should be anonymised so that individuals cannot be discriminated against based on predicted outcomes.

    • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xystren ( 522982 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:18AM (#43748819)

      When your able to build your own hospital and staff it from the pocket change you have on your bedside table, I suppose there would be no reason to fear not being insured. And if you have that, you have no fear of being unemployed, or the stigma that may or may not goes along with any particular disease or illness. It wouldn't seem like a big deal when you can literally *buy* your way out of anything.

      It's also a conflict of interest when Mr. Page is going to be making a profit from acquisition of that information. Got erectile dysfunction? I bet Larry would love to sell that information to a drug company. I don't want any more Viagra spam that I already get. Don't like a particular political candidate? I'm sure he would love to sell you some information on how that candidate had/has a STD or some other mental illness. The ways that information could be abused and Larry makes his buck off of it. No wonder he wants the masses to be less worried about our health privacy.

      Mr. Larry, you made the *CHOICE* disclose your medical situation. I want that same choice - and I ain't giving it to you or Google to decide what does or doesn't get disclosed.

    • Re:Not even close (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reschekle ( 2661565 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:26AM (#43748855)

      Umm, if you're not being open with your partner about your STD as far as I'm concerned you're a criminal and a scumbag.

  • insure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:42AM (#43748613)

    just think rationally for a moment

    if you insure everyone, why dont you just make sure everyone get health care.

    big companies can make financial decisions about risk mitigation.

    for the rest of us, the insurance companies are just parasites. they rig the game.

    we need to stop discussing health, our health, in those terms

    • Re:insure? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:53AM (#43748687) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Health care is a right. In this day and age, no one should have to worry about not getting health care. In most advanced countries, they don't.

      • Health care is not a human right. It is a privilege. If you really felt that way (that it is a right), you would extend that to everyone in the world to get at least some health care, whereas the current 1st world understanding is that only they get complete and total coverage and the absolute best care for everything that may ever happen to them. I travel the world extensively in almost entirely with the poor and needy. I can tell you, there is not much attention given to them, while back home in the U
      • Re:insure? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:37AM (#43748903) Journal

        One small problem:

        Define "Health care" as a "right".

        Does this "right" include exorbitant measures to extend life? Would it include plastic surgery (you know, for self-esteem reasons)? Does this "right" diminish with age, since old people getting a scarce resource (e.g. organ transplants) wouldn't see nearly the benefit from it that a younger patient would? I could go on, but you get the point. Obviously there has to be limits on what should go into health care. That said, it's one thing to set those limits impersonally. It's another to see these limits in action when it's your spouse, parent, or child that runs up against them.

        BTW - two things:

        1) since when does a right include automatic access to another's labor? Speech, privacy, and all the fun rights listed in the US Constitution don't require another's labor, time, or money. Your "right" to health care does. Why is that?

        2) If I choose not to exercise an enumerated right (again, c.f. US Constitution), it costs me nothing. If I choose not to exercise this "right" to health care, I still have to pay for it. What the hell?

        • Re:insure? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Cenan ( 1892902 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @04:52AM (#43749707)

          How is any of that a problem? Those a fabricated arguments against subset of a whole, arguments that can easily be dealt with.

          - Elective surgery is not covered with public health care. Why would it be? Why would this even be a problem?
          - Why not help the old? What have YOU done that's so great recently? Old people have paid taxes for far longer than you, why should they not be allowed to live their life to the fullest? Remember, old people are just ex-workers who, you know, got old.

          1) What? Health care does not give free access to someone else's labor any more than calling the police when you've been robbed does. What a fucking moronic thing to say.
          2) Yes you pay for it, because everybody gets covered equally. And when you're down on your luck in a auto accident, looking at loosing both your legs, I bet you will shut the fuck up and take the treatment.

          Reading your reply is like listening to those fuckwits who drone on and on about how global warming might not be real, so we shouldn't strive to make the world a better, cleaner place to live in. To you and to them: shut the fuck up and move over, real people live here and you're wasting our space.

  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:44AM (#43748627) Journal

    Sounds like someone who wasn't around for the beginning of the AIDS epidemic (or even the current state of the AIDS epidemic).

    There are some health issues that society isn't mature enough to handle. Most of them are sexual in nature - do you really want your STD diagnosis to be water-cooler conversation (Hey, Frank, who'd you pick up that case of the clap from?)? If I had a diagnosis that gave me a 25% chance of dying in the next year, I believe that I have the right to decide who knows that. How about as a potential CEO, having your anxiety disorder (handled nicely with drugs, thank you) bandied about the boardroom?

    There are other health issues that are a don't-care. Paralyzed vocal cords? Bummer, dude. Here, I'll tell you one about me - I have vitiligo. Bummer, dude. Exzema? Ingrown toenail? Bummer, dude. Hell, even erectile dysfunction is a prime-time advertising bonanza.

  • Medical Privacy (Score:5, Informative)

    by MacTechnic ( 40042 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:48AM (#43748653) Homepage

    I must sincerely disagree with Larry Page on the subject of privacy of medical records. There are many medical conditions, that can be compromising or embarrassing for a patient. If someone has a congenital condition that affect their behavioral or physical condition, that is something they might want to manage privately for their own protection. Reproductive issues are very private issues, for obvious reasons. If someone has a undiagnosed condition that affects their ability to work or to engage in a social life, they deserve privacy while they work with a health provider to figure things out. I find Mr. Page's feelings very inconsiderate to other people. I respect Mr. Page's courage in dealing with his current vocal cord paralysis, which has been ongoing for sometime, and he has taken a very blunt way of dealing with it. Not everyone's condition affords them such candor.

    • by j-beda ( 85386 )

      While I agree that privacy issues extend beyond purely ones associated with getting medical coverage by your insurer, it is also true that absent the types of financial incentives that insurance providers and employers have in learning about your medical conditions, there is much less desire for anyone to access someone else's information.

      If your employer does not pay increased rates due to your health issues - they don't have much incentive to snoop or discriminate. Yes there is some since a sick employee

    • I've had a paralyzed vocal cord since birth. No one has EVER considered it a real disability apart from things like "you have a cold?" "did you yell too much at the concert last night?" etc. It's more of an interesting curiosity to most people. A man who sells database software telling us we need not be so concerned about our privacy is just trying to make himself more wealthy... the medical sob story is a steaming pile...
  • Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people

    That would be an improvement, but at the same time it creates another problem. Having an industry where only the buyer is allowed to use information is complete nonsense too. I know this opinion isn't popular around here, but for health insurance, the only thing that makes any sort of sense is a public system. It's just sad to see that the US is among the last to realize this.

    • by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:57AM (#43748705) Homepage

      Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people

      That would be an improvement, but at the same time it creates another problem. Having an industry where only the buyer is allowed to use information is complete nonsense too. I know this opinion isn't popular around here, but for health insurance, the only thing that makes any sort of sense is a public system. It's just sad to see that the US is among the last to realize this.

      Actually, in most of the world, it isn't called "medical insurance", it is called the "medical system", and it is a system where everyone pays for equal access to medical services. The idea that it is "insurance", where individuals have various levels of "risk" seems to be part of the problem. Society does not have "educational insurance" to pay for our educational needs, why would we want medical insurance?

      • by jmv ( 93421 )

        I think the "insurance" here is mostly historical, nothing more. An actual insurance (public or private) would never pay for your yearly health check-up or for your regular meds. If you tell your insurer that you're planning on having a minor car accident in May of every year, I doubt you'll be insured for very long.

        • by j-beda ( 85386 )

          I think the "insurance" here is mostly historical, nothing more. An actual insurance (public or private) would never pay for your yearly health check-up or for your regular meds. If you tell your insurer that you're planning on having a minor car accident in May of every year, I doubt you'll be insured for very long.

          I recognize that it is a historical result, but it still colors the discussion. It makes sense to charge different rates for insurance based on knowledge about the risks and the costs - thus we have different house insurance rates and payouts depending on where the house is and how it is constructed for example. We generally do not do that for the education system for example - everyone in town pays the same regardless of how much of the education system they directly use. Movement toward non-universal educ

  • Contradiction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mfwitten ( 1906728 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:52AM (#43748675)

    Insurance is about risk management. Forcing a risk manager to ignore risk is about as dumb a suggestion as I've ever heard.

    The problem lies elsewhere; the problem lies in the lack of a free market; the problem lies in crony capitalism: Big Business and Big Government using each other to fleece people through coercion.

  • Pollyanna Page (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:52AM (#43748677)

    "'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."

    Maybe the world *should* be a better place. But wishing for the best of all possible worlds is an idiotic basis for national health policy. Or privacy policy.

  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @12:53AM (#43748681)

    So Larry Page disclosed an ailment that quite frankly was new to me. But what are the implications of paralized vocal chords beyond being unable to speak?

    Are the people surrounding him worried he may be contagoious? Is he in danger of being blamed for an unhealthy lifestyle causing his malaise? Does he face the prospect of losing his job, or being unable to find employment in the future? Is he likely to lose family or friends? I believe the answer is no to all the above questions.

    But think of AIDS, certain cancers, heart disease, mental disorders and any number of afflictions that MAY be caused by personal choice. Or even if personal responsibility were not the cause, yet others would still discriminate the sufferer.

    The choice of making one's problems public should ALWAYS rest with the individual. There are always reasons to shield yourself from others, and one billionaire cannot even begin to comprehend the complexity of the issue from his ivory tower.

  • He goes into I/O and tells everyone that there's too much focus on competition and a "zero-sum" game. Meanwhile his company is doing everything is can to fight regulation, moving on any and every available market, clearly adopting innovation for market and platform advantage, and generally fighting to be the alpha wolf of the pack. Christ, you basically just duplicated the iphone and gave it away for free to build a market for your products... zero sum game my a$#, you're dealing the cards you half wit!


    • by AtariDatacenter ( 31657 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @06:52AM (#43750213)

      “Computer science has a marketing problem." That's what Larry said. And his presentation was about marketing more than anything. He was trying to sell the world view that works great for his company, and he certainly put his sour grapes on the table.

      He talks of "resistance to technological change", which is code for Google Glasses and the glasshole syndrome. He talks of how people should should be more relaxed with their medical records, which is code for Google Health. They had a clear plan how they were going to make money with Google Health (selling user data). The problem was that, on the user side, they had a solution that was in search of an actual need. But Google has made it clear that they're not going to learn that lesson.

      You know, I kind of like his idea of a mirror universe where more avant-garde ideas can be tested out, in small scale, in the real-world. He wanted a Burning Man type of environment for new technology. Actually, Eureka (the town from the TV show of the same name) might have been a closer fit (although the reference would have been lesser-known, and is almost synonymous with disaster). Being able to try things out (on the small scale and a limited geography) and work out the problems there is great for allowing a company to iterate on a product without the marketing backlash for failures.

      In theory, I'd love to live in that Eureka town. But only if it was about the product and about the science. The only thing Google Health did for me was to convince me that Google's products and services aren't about what they deliver (search, ubiquitous health records). They are about Google's real customers (advertisers, health care industry) and Google's real problem is finding a way to get everyone to jump on board so they can make money. That's what he is saying, in code, when he says "computer science has a marketing problem".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    His comment makes a lot of sense. In Australia, health insurance companies must charge every customer the same amount (for the same level of cover) and are required to provide coverage to anyone who signs up. It is illegal to deny a person insurance. Japan goes one step further and *requires* everyone to be insured. Everyone has the the same level of cover and no one is denied. Both of these countries have excellent medical outcomes and profitable medical insurance industries.

    America, you are doing health i

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:03AM (#43748753)
    What reason do you possibly have to look at another person's medical history unless you are a physician or are put into a situation where you have to make medical decisions for another person? It's one thing to decide to share something if you feel it might be beneficial to help raise awareness (see Angelina Jolie) or if you're in an important position where people might have money riding on your health (see Steve Jobs or Larry Page) and a case could be made for ascertaining that you are healthy, but otherwise, there's no good reason.

    I don't want to come off as some tin-foil hat wearing nut-job, but one can't help making a connection between Google wanting to know as much information as possible about a person to influence search results and Page's comments.

    I just think there's no good reason to open up if people don't want to. There are a lot of things that could be stigmatizing in a person's medical history and open them all to all kinds of forms of discrimination outside of being able to get health insurance. Things as simple as "Oh, you had an abortion once. You're not welcome here."

    And for what it's worth, I'd like to see better privacy laws in place. The kind of data that companies are so easily able to gather these days is getting out of hand is probably going to lead to an entirely new set of problems in the future. For example, it's already been proven possible to out a gay person [] by analyzing their friends on social networks. If the world were a better place that wouldn't be a big deal, but it isn't. I'm reminded a short story [] where information gathering becomes so sophisticated that computers are able to generate targeted ads to influence a person in a single regard:

    “Push combs the online footprint of our targets to determine everything we can about them,” said Yaroslava. “We use social networks, we use search histories, we use cell phone data, we use gaming protocols. All data is useful to us. Not only do we find out exactly what our target likes to consume, but we also find out how they like to consume it. We see how they browse to determine their specific attention spans and intelligence. We scan their pornography habits to learn about their libido, their obsessions, and their fears. We aggregate vast amounts of data about the way they use the internet to create a complete psychological profile of our targets, and then we use cognitive behavioral techniques to triangulate patterns in this profile. We make as robust a model of their operating intelligence as we possibly can. And then we make little movies meant only for our specific subjects. We make movies designed to steer them toward our products, whatever these products may be. These movies are designed to make each subject breathless, pliant, confused, over-stimulated, and highly amenable to suggestion.”

    • Even the NYTimes points out how the drug companies abuse their access to health care and prescription records: "Pills Tracked From Doctor to Patient to Aid Drug Marketing" [] in today's (2013-may-17) New York Times.
      Here are some of the sad reasons that people have for wanting to look at your private health records:
      1 - marketing: what can we sell to you? what disease do you have? what products will you need? will you buy more incontinence diapers? will you need special dietary restrictions, thus specia
  • Big fucking deal. You had a vocal chord problem. Wow. How brave of you to come forward and how noble of you to now believe that we should all be open about our medical problems. There are soooooo many reasons why people prefer to keep that information private apart from being denied insurance.
  • If you think it's so safe then why don't you take all that google money and pay some of our medical bills? You can start with mine. Oh, wait, you don't want to? Shut the fuck up... I'm tired of you standing on a gilded soap box telling us how to fix the world.
  • Employers may not hire you if they think you will be sick a lot or may not survive long enough to pay for your training. Random people will shun you if they know you are HIV positive or schizophrenic even if there is no rational reason for their behavior. Few people will knowingly dance with a transsexual at a party. I say Larry Page is overstating how much we should worry about Google's business model. Opt- in web crawling by at least the big search engines visited by most people would do both individuals

  • It's discrimination, plain and simple. I've a victim of it, many others have. The notion that what one shares with a doctor is private is enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath, no less.

    "All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal."

    The point of electronic health records is to actually improve the privacy of health information by enforcing auditing of all actions. Patients like being

  • The positive feedback he [Larry Page] got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance.

    ... by a *really* rich guy who doesn't need insurance and doesn't have to worry about anything other than himself. There are lots of other reasons to worry about one's medical privacy - many of which have already been mentioned above - with prejudice and discrimination being two broad categories of worry.

  • Let them eat cake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @01:43AM (#43748937)

    This billionaire advertising executive is so totally disconnected from the issues facing real people in the real world that it boggles the mind.

    "Why would anyone want privacy for their medical records? I don't get it. If that causes insurance problem then we should just change the insurance system. Why is this so hard for you people to understand?"

  • []

    Has a severe god complex.

    *this post is entirely fictional for those of you who have a hard time separating reality from bullshit.

  • by medoc ( 90780 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:20AM (#43749127) Homepage

    I find it very interesting that someone as intelligent as Larry Page could provide a statement so utterly disconnected from the reality of most people lives.

    This is one more indication that in many cases, being separated from contact with ordinary people by richness of function actually affects your capacity to think "normally" or empathize.

    This is one more element to show that letting these (otherwise perfectly respectable) people having too much influence on politics and government is extremely bad.

  • So, should Google jump back into the health data service market, who among you would use it, given a statement like this from Page?

    I suspect Page believes Google should be able to analyze your health data and even sell you to advertisers.

    No way no how.

  • Google Glasses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @02:26AM (#43749159)

    You know, just the other day I was at the water cooler with my Google Glasses on. Janet's description showed that she was three months pregnant. She's unmarried and spends a lot of time with Bob.

    Bob's description suggests he was tested for an STD just a couple months ago. I wonder if he told Janet.

    Oops. Just got a popup that I can pay google $10 a month to keep my medical records from showing up on google glasses. What a steal!

  • How is this "news"?

    There are a ton of reasons for which people care about medical privacy. Here's one: If you're trans, and you're on hormones, then being "outed" can get you killed. Although, frankly, nothing Google's done has ever given me the impression that they care; the way G+ has handled "real" names suggests to me that, as a corporation, Google would be happiest if all those people just stopped existing and being complications. (Note: I know a bunch of people at Google who don't feel that way; Google the corporation has behaviors that, so far as I can tell, Google employees generally dislike, but the dysfunctional way they run the company makes things happen anyway.)

  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Friday May 17, 2013 @03:33AM (#43749399)

    Proper medical care should not be subject to an insurance which the insurance companies could refuse to give you due to prior illness. What if someone grows up in a poor family without medical insurance and is diagnosed with a heart defect at a young age which may or may not manifest itself at an older age. If it does happen, they're practically screwed, even if the defect could be treated with proper medical care. The insurance companies could easily say that this is a prior condition that was diagnosed before the insurance was taken out.

    We can argue about socialised medicine, which works pretty well in Europe, warts and all, but it baffles me that such a large portion of Americans are highly enthusiastic about a system where a large for-profit corporation with a huge profit motive can decide to screw you over, due to technicalities in your insurance contract, or because you got a test done when you where 13.

    The rest of Larry Page's arguments seem nonsense to me. We, as a society, should be less judgemental and prickly or private about a lot of illnesses, but as an individual, you have to live in a society where people will judge you for your medical history. We are not ready for full disclosure and probably never will be.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.