Top lawmakers want answers about Obamacare site

Top lawmakers are seeking more information about information sharing by HealthCare.gov.

Washington (CNN)Top Republican and Democratic lawmakers on a powerful congressional committee want answers from the Obama administration about the sensitive personal information the government's health insurance website is collecting from consumers and sharing with private Internet marketing companies.

On Thursday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell outlining their concerns.
According to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN, "The committee is concerned ... that sensitive consumer information submitted by visitors to HealthCare.gov -- such as age, income and smoking habits -- is being shared."
    The website is the online portal many consumers use to buy health insurance through a government marketplace.
    The letter cited an Associated Press story published on Tuesday that reported the HealthCare.gov website is "quietly sending consumers' personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing."
    The story said the data's scope and how it might be used was unclear, noting "there is no evidence that personal data has been misused."
    In the letter, Chaffetz, Cummings and three other committee members ask Burwell for information regarding "the scope of the information that has been shared, as well as the controls in place to protect the personally identifiable information of consumers."
    The lawmakers also asked the department to identify all of the third parties that HealthCare.gov shares sensitive information with and include: what data is shared, how the data's use is restricted and what controls exist to ensure it's not used commercially.
    A HealthCare.gov official said it's common for consumer websites to use private sector tools. HealthCare.gov uses them to streamline the user experience and respond to problems.
    "Protecting consumers' privacy is a top priority. There is no evidence that consumer information has been misused by any third party," said HHS spokesman Aaron Albright. "Unlike many retail sites similar to HealthCare.gov, we do not and will not sell a visitor's information. We will remain vigilant and will continue to focus on what more we can do to keep consumers' personal information secure."