December 5th, 2022 amazon
Privacy, antitrust, and other advocates on Thursday sounded the alarm over Amazon’s purchase of boutique healthcare company One Medical, a move that one group said “opens a terrifying new frontier in surveillance of Americans by private corporations.”
CNBC reports Amazon is acquiring One Medical, a San Francisco-based private health services provider with 188 locations whose 767,000 members pay around $200 in annual concierge fees, for about $3.9 billion, or $18 per share.
Neil Lindsay, Amazon’s senior vice president of health services, told The Washington Post—which is owned by Amazon multi-billionaire founder and executive chairman Jeff Bezos—that “we think healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.”
However, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted: “The function of a rational healthcare system is to provide quality care to all in a cost-effective way, not make billionaires like Jeff Bezos even richer. At a time of growing concentration of ownership, the Justice Department must deny Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical.”
Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute (OMI), an anti-monopoly think tank, asserted in a statement that “U.S. enforcement agencies should block this deal.”
“They should also move swiftly to establish a basic set of rules to protect every corner of America’s health industry from the power of the manipulation platforms,” he added.
If the One Medical deal is completed, it would mark Amazon’s third-biggest acquisition after Whole Foods ($13.7 billion) and MGM Studios ($8.5 billion).
While One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin said the Amazon acquisition presents “an immense opportunity to make the healthcare experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable,” critics warned of the dangers to public health in a nation that spends far more per capita on healthcare than other developed countries while experiencing overall inferior outcomes.
“This will be a blow to the fight for universal healthcare,” opined journalist Aaron T. Rose. “Imagine all the money Amazon will pour into lobbying to stop Medicare for All now that they have a dog in the fight.”
Others expressed concerns about the threats to privacy and competition. OMI’s Lynn wrote:
Amazon’s takeover of One Medical is the latest shot in a terrifying new stage in the business model of the world’s largest corporations. The deal will expand Amazon’s ability to collect the most intimate and personal of information about individuals, in order to track, target, manipulate, and exploit people in ever more intrusive ways.
Amazon is not the only dangerous actor here. Google’s recent takeover of the fitness tracker Fitbit poses similar threats. Every American should stand against this radical extension of corporate power into our lives. In addition to manipulating how we talk to one another and do business with one another, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple are moving fast to manipulate our perceptions of our own health and well-being.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe v. Wade and Republican-led states’ moves to criminalize people who have, perform, or “abet” abortions, reproductive rights advocates feared the implications of Amazon’s purchase.
“One Medical currently has healthcare locations in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, and Arizona—all states we can expect will prosecute pregnant people for abortions or adverse pregnancy outcomes,” tweeted Robyn Swirling, founder and executive director of the progressive advocacy group Works in Progress. “So you can maybe see why Amazon having their medical data is, perhaps, not going to be safe!”
This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the healthcare services sector. It bought online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 for $750 million, launched Amazon Pharmacy in 2020, and earlier this year expanded its Amazon Care telehealth program nationwide.
“Is there anything,” asked NPR correspondent David Gura in response to Amazon’s latest acquisition, “this corporation won’t know about your day-to-day life?”
December 5th, 2022 amazon
Critics on Friday took aim at a proposed South Carolina law that would criminalize the online sharing of information about obtaining abortions and, according to some journalists, could even be used to silence stories related to reproductive rights.
S.B. 1373—which one prominent defense attorney called “a breathtaking assault on free speech”—contains language associated with organized crime conspiracy laws by targeting people who engage in “a pattern of prohibited abortion activity.”
“This is tremendously concerning for us. It is a target for folks who tell the stories of patients who need to access care, explain how care is [accessed], and the stories of providers and advocates who are helping make sure that happens,” Jessica Mason Pieklo, senior vice president and executive editor at the reproductive rights site Rewire News Group, toldPrism.
“If we think that conservatives will stop at speech that targets abortion providers, people who write about abortion, people who offer scientific and medical information around abortion, we’re mistaken,” Pieklo added. “We know that this will bleed into other areas that evangelical and social conservatives deem inappropriate and deviant.”
Just before the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority overturned Roe v. Wade last month, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation’s largest anti-choice group, published model legislation that, in addition to banning abortion, criminalizes “aiding or abetting” the medical procedure.
According to S.B. 1373—parts of which are nearly identical to NRLC model law—”aiding or abetting” includes:
- Providing information to a pregnant woman, or someone seeking information on behalf of a pregnant woman, by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an abortion, knowing that the information will be used, or is reasonably likely to be used, for an abortion;
- Hosting or maintaining an internet website, providing access to an internet website, or providing an internet service purposefully directed to a pregnant woman who is a resident of this state that provides information on how to obtain an abortion;
- Offering or providing abortion doula services, knowing that the services will be used, or are reasonably likely to be used for an abortion;
- Providing a referral to an abortion provider, knowing that the referral will result, or is reasonably likely to result, in an abortion; and
- Providing a referral to an abortion provider and receiving monetary remuneration, or other compensation, from an abortion provider for the referral.
S.B. 1373 also contains novel “whistleblower” protections, imposing prison terms of up to 10 years for people who “take any action to impede” those who report violations of the law to the state attorney general.
The National Law Review said the bill “also provides an extremely broad definition of what constitutes ‘actions impeding a whistleblower.’”
Michele Goodwin, director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine Law School, called S.B. 1373 “unconstitutional,” but warned such bills would nevertheless likely proliferate.
“These are not going to be one-offs,” Goodwin told The Washington Post. “These are going to be laws that spread like wildfire through states that have shown hostility to abortion.”
Digital rights campaigners highlighted the role—and responsibility—of Big Tech in light of bills like S.B. 1373, with New Jersey congressional candidate and attorney Stephanie Schmid asserting that “it’s time for tech companies to get off the sidelines.”
The Center for Democracy & Technology says that “crucially, companies should carefully scrutinize and seek to limit the scope of surveillance demands issued in prosecutions to enforce anti-abortion laws.”
“They should adopt clear and consistent standards for refusing overbroad requests, commit to giving their users timely notice of requests, and report publicly the numbers of surveillance demands they receive to increase public accountability,” the advocacy group added.
Earlier this month, a coalition of reproductive rights groups filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the legislation, which Center for Reproductive Rights president and CEO Nancy Northup said is causing “mayhem at an unimaginable scale.”
As of last month, abortion is banned in South Carolina after six weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger.