The unpleasant surprises keep coming as the Healthcare.gov website is examined more closely. The latest revelation indicates a stealthy warning, not visible to most users but there for those who knowledgeable enough to look at the source code:
You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system. At any time, and for any lawful Government purpose, the government may monitor, intercept, and search and seize any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system. Any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system may be disclosed or used for any lawful Government purpose.
Jeryl Bier of The Weekly Standard discovered the buried warming, and comments:
It is unclear why these sentences appear in the code at all since they are not displayed, although the code may simply have been copied from another website that does use the full warning. In this case, the unwanted portion of the warning was rendered inert with HTML coding tags ("<!--" and "-->") usually used by programmers for inserting comments to explain the purpose of a section of code. However, the code can be rendered "live" again by simply removing those tags, in which case the full text would appear on the screen to users. However, it is unclear why the paragraph containing "no reasonable expectation of privacy" would ever have even been considered appropriate in this context.
I don't even know how to begin to tell you how disastrously idiotic such a design is. It practically guarantees a critical server crash under any kind of real user load. No programmer with an IQ above 100 would design js code in such a manner. This code was designed and written by utterly incompetent people who have built into the system exactly the kind of architecture that will make it fail if anyone tries to use it.
When HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says this code is "functioning," she's actually painting a giant "dunce" sign on her forehead. This code is so far from functioning that all the government programmers in the world couldn't make it work smoothly by January 1.
Given the fact that over $600 million taxpayer dollars were spent developing this website, dwarfing the resources used to set up such large websites as Facebook, the shoddy quality is a scandal. People who can't even create a website should not be in charge of our healthcare, it seems obvious. Congressional hearings seem required to put officials under oath to explain the buried privacy disclaimer.
It also looks like there may be not only no quick fix, there may be no fix at all, and the entire website may have to be scrapped. Now, if we can just agree to scrap Obamacare itself, that will be a step forward.