Ad brokers are selling the fact that you visited an emergency room to ambulance-chasing lawyers

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Same with auto stuff.

I had an accident a few years ago, and a few days later received a call from some random out of state phone number claiming to be from, “Vehicle Services” or something. They said I absolutely MUST contact the tow place that my car was towed to, and fax them a release form.

Apparently, the release form was a standard practice of that tow company, because a local auto repair shop was running a scam where they’d somehow pull info about your recent accident and where the car was towed to in order basically steal repair business. The local dodgy tow place that had been running this scam was not obviously associated with the alleged company that called me up.


Slow AIs and their bottom-feeding human minions seem determined to make Americans even more miserable at the most stressful and vulnerable times of their lives.


… (notoriously, one broker sold “advertise to people who went into Planned Parenthood” services to anti-abortion groups that operated fraudulent “crisis pregnancy centers” that masqueraded as abortion clinics but were actually hard-sell, anti-abortion storefront cons).

WFT! That’s some old skool, Mission Impossible style, creepy ass, brain fucking bullshit. Really, the depths some people are apparently willing to sink to in their quest to reach the “moral highground” beggars belief.


HIPAA specifically prohibits personally identifiable information relating to the provision of health care to the individual from being shared.
How is this ER not being fined for this?

(In case this isn’t clear; the above is a real ad as collected in the wild; apparently the temperature of the frog pot is such that cagey denials and vague assurances aren’t even seen as the optimal strategy anymore.)

Unless there’s another shoe waiting to drop the ER isn’t technically involved.

The ambulance chasers are purchasing ads targeted to “people in this specific area” (wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they are even being specific enough to want people in that specific area who do not frequent it; since hospital staff mostly don’t need personal injury lawyers); as opposed to a demographic, interest, etc.

The fine abhuman vermin of team ad-tech are inferring the location of target clients; exact means unknown; but probably some combination of cell companies just plain selling the information; apps that have weaseled their way into location access; and potentially the giant wall of “agree to this totally innocuous stuff or you don’t get to even use your phone’s built-in GPS” ‘agreement’ that covers ‘location services’.

When clients identified as being in the relevant zone are in the position to display an ad(whether web page or app-embedded); the automated bidding process that occurs to determine which ad gets shown places one of the location targeted ones.

It may be that the ER is, incidentally, making the task of geolocating the targets easier(unless hospital IT are being quite specifically paranoid determining what traffic coming from the guest wifi, if any, is probably isn’t the world’s toughest problem); but the implementation of this mechanism does not require their cooperation; and(at least so far); nobody has evidence that they have been cooperating.

Given the HIPAA issues; and the fact that EMRs are notoriously nasty to interface with, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if attempting to coopt them isn’t even worth the trouble for this purpose. There are other sources without any of the legal issues.

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