Abstract collage of overlapping, bright-colored glowing circles
Series ended

The Hidden Multi-Billion Dollar International Trade in Our Medical Data

About the series

Abstract:  Soon after you tell your doctor about your intimate medical problems, data detailing your condition is sold commercially to companies that have nothing to do with your treatment or billing. The electronic medical record company may sell the notes about your embarrassing problem the physician logs into the computer. The lab performing the blood test sells a copy of the results. The pharmacy receives money for sharing the details of your medication, as does the insurer covering the cost of your treatment. Some say the trade may lead to big data scientific breakthroughs, others fear massive privacy violations.

Bio: Adam Tanner is a leading expert on the business of personal data and privacy. He is the author of Our Bodies, Our Data: How Companies Make Billions Selling Our Medical Records (2017) and What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data - Lifeblood of Big Business - and the End of Privacy as We Know It.  He is an associate at Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, where he has been a fellow, writer and associate since 2011.

He served as a Reuters news agency correspondent from 1995-2011, including as bureau chief for the Balkans (2008-2011), San Francisco bureau chief (2003-2008), and correspondent in Berlin, Moscow and Washington D.C. I have appeared on CNN, Bloomberg TV, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, the BBC and VOA, written for magazines includingScientific AmericanForbes, Fortune. MIT Technology Review and Slate, and lectured across the United States and in many countries of South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and in Australia.


Past events in this series