The launch of federal government’s Obamacare insurance exchange, Healthcare.gov, has been plagued with delays, errors, and poor website design, even prompting USA Today to call it an “inexcusable mess” and a “nightmare”. Now comes another example of why the website’s reputation is in tatters. Buried in the source code of Healthcare.gov is this sentence that could prove embarrassing: “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.” Though not visible to users and obviously not intended as part of the terms and conditions, the language is nevertheless a part of the underlying code for the “Terms & Conditions” page on the site.
After creating an account on Healthcare.gov, users are asked to click an “I accept” button under some routine Terms & Conditions prohibiting unauthorized attempts to upload information or change the website. Once users click the button, they may proceed to shop for insurance and enter detailed personal information. However, when the Terms & Conditions page is visible, the hidden sentence mentioned above along with several others can be seen by using a web browser’s “View Source” feature. A screen grab below shows the visible Terms & Conditions page along with a simultaneous view of the code underlying it: