By Joseph Marks
A Trump administration decision to loosen privacy requirements for doctors treating patients over phone and video apps during the
“We’re in a different environment today with this pandemic
The Trump administration is expanding Medicare coverage for digital doctors visits and effectively removing privacy barriers that made it difficult for doctors to use popular video apps, including Apple’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook Messenger’s video chat feature. The decision should allow both doctors and patients more flexibility about how to connect – and use free services instead of paying for those that have gone through the rigorous process of guaranteeing they're following Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules that govern patients' health information.
But this raises the risk that doctors will use video services without full encryption
“The most important thing now is diagnosing people and getting ahead of the virus,” Mick Baccio, a former
President Trump described the goal of this and other measures during a news conference as “sav
“Everything else is going to come back. A life is never going to come back,” he said. The White House is also urging states to expand
The shift applies to any doctor-patient consultation, whether it’s about diagnosing
And this is just one example of government's increased willingness to accept digital risk during the pandemic. Large numbers of federal employees, for example, are also now working remotely and relying on outdated virtual private network systems that could buckle under the load. They’re also likely dialing into government networks using personal laptops and other devices that haven’t been fully vetted by
Even before the government order, custom-designed apps for online medical consultations were already seeing a spike in usage from people wary of visiting a doctor in person, Jon Pearce, CEO of the
“We’ve seen a 100-fold increase in utilization this past week [and] have not had
The administration also urged doctors to “notify patients that these third-party
“I think about telling my elderly aunts how to enable encryption before a video chat and they’d say, ‘What does that mean?’ ” Tony Cole, chief technology officer at the
Apple, Google and Facebook didn’t respond to requests for comment about whether the White House consulted them before releasing the relaxed rules or whether they would be sharing any specific guidance or best practices with doctors.
PINGED, PATCHED, PWNED
Attorney General William P. Barr.
The Justice Department is investigating the spread of an SMS-based disinformation campaign claiming that Trump would implement a national quarantine as well as a possible attack meant to knock out computer networks at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“When you’re dealing with something like a denial of service attack on HHS during a pandemic, that’s a very grave action
He did not speculate about which country was behind the attack.
The misinformation campaign appeared to be aimed at spurring shoppers to rush to
The attorney general also slammed efforts by scammers to profit off
An election official wearing protective gloves.
Perez joins a chorus of Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for expanded vote-by-mail in light of public-health concerns stoked by the
The calls come as election officials are scrambling to respond to the pandemic and as multiple states have rescheduled their primary elections amid public health concerns.
Meanwhile, the Election Assistance Commission, which oversees more than $800 million in federal election security grants for states, announced it will allow states to use some of those funds to protect poll workers and voters from the virus. States can use the grant funding to pay for disinfecting wipes, masks and other cleaning supplies, the EAC noted in a news release.
The announcement comes as many poll locations struggle to afford basic sanitation measures, my colleagues Elise Viebeck, Amy Gardner and Isaac Stanley-Becker report. For instance, Illinois election officials promised voters cleaning supplies and disinfectants for Tuesday’s primary that were missing when they arrived.
President Trump listens during a news briefing with the
White House officials insist they do not intend to create a database of users’ locations, but the move is still sure to spark a debate over the use of invasive surveillance technologies during the global health pandemic, my colleagues note.
The government is particularly interested in understanding patterns of people’s movements through
Other countries have already begun to experiment with location-tracking technology to aid prevention and detection efforts. The Israeli spyware firm NSO Group -- which has come under intense fire for allegedly helping autocratic regimes spy on their citizens -- developed a similar product that it says can map people's users to track the
PUBLIC KEY— The U.S.