Medsphere, and the Shreeve Tragedy have left me a little jaded. I have little patience for those who threaten the health FOSS community. Believe it or not, I rarely allow my aggression to turn public. I can think of at least 5 friendships with current FOSS community members, that began with rather nasty emails originating from me. Most of these useful harassments never make it into the public eye. The work that Dr. Peel has done with Microsoft around their HealthVault line has been a notable exception. Dr. Peels public endorsement of Microsoft originally shocked me so greatly that I felt I had to publicly respond.
So it was with great anticipation that I was able to hear Dr. Peel speak for the very first time today at HIMSS 08. In her talk, she indirectly addressed many of my criticisms. Lets review some of the “potshots” that I have taken at her, and detail what I heard in her talk about this issues.
Dr. Peel detailed her plans to create a new organization to perform privacy reviews of PHR sourcecode and privacy policies.
- I have indicated that is is impossible for Dr. Peel to determine what HealthVault does without reviewing the sourcecode.
Apparently the new certifying organization will not certify PHR systems, without performing a sourcecode review.
- I have criticized Dr. Peels acceptance of the non-public nature of Microsofts commitments to privacy
Obviously, through the new certifying organization, the “endorsement” of Microsoft would become a formal matter. The endorsement would be withdrawn, if Microsoft started behaving badly.
I wish that I could believe that Dr. Peel started these initiatives in response to my criticisms (it would make me feel very important indeed to know that she was listening), however it is entirely possible that she may have had this plan in her organizations Skunk Works long before I was saying anything.
Here are some further snippets that I found comforting from her presentation.
- She has claimed that she has not taken any money from Microsoft, she gets her funds from her own network of friends and supporters. (Transparency is good)
- While she listed Microsofts Healthvault as a “good” project, she also listed Microsoft on the pages of privacy violators, so she both endorsed and condemned them in the same talk.
- She talked to me after her talk and was quite friendly
The only thing I could criticize about her talk specifically was her slide about the VA data thefts. She had put a WorldVistA logo on the top of the page, but the data breaches were a problem within the VA, and had nothing to do with WorldVistA. WorldVistA is a private organization that shares an interest in VistA with the VA, but otherwise is not connected with the VA at all, and certainly had nothing to do with the data breaches. In fact WorldVistA has and will continue to improve the overall privacy and security of private installations of VistA. Still, I am probably the only person in the crowd who even noticed this, and I doubt anyone thinks negatively about WorldVistA as the result of her talk.
In short, Dr. Peel is probably going to address the bulk of my complaints. She may have been planning to for months before I said anything.
So this is not a retraction of my attacks against her, but rather a reprieve. (When someone turns around like this a reprieve from criticism is popular within our community). If she continues on this path, I will fully retract my criticisms towards her personally.