Medicinal drugs can be beneficial, even lifesaving — but not, always, in combination with each other. Putting two and two together in the human body can cause a million different unexpected, unintended, downright harmful side effects. Until now, those “adverse interactions” have been difficult to research, sort through, and track. But today, the FDA is launching a new initiative designed to let members of the public have access to, and make sense of, all the data.
Last week’s post about a baffling and possibly incriminating e-mail solicitation from ProFlowers produced a hilarious comments section and a lot of speculation as to the identity of Margaret, the woman (not his wife) to whom reader Chris was being encouraged to send more flowers. We have an update. The good news: Both the offending ProFlowers account and Margaret have been found. The bad news: The couple has no idea who Margaret is, but they have her full name and home address. They still have no idea how Margaret’s info ended up in the account in the first place.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is set to launch a database in the next few weeks that tracks reports of injuries resulting from strollers and cribs. A group of children’s product manufacturers are trying to coax lawmakers to stifle the database and roll back other health regulations.
Just how big exactly was the bailout? And which banks got which kinds of loans? And how many did they get? It’s been hard to figure out, but now the Fed has released deep data on the over 21,000 different loans it made during the financial crisis—loans that were supposed to help encourage the banks to resume lending again. ProPublica has put all the numbers together into a searchable and filterable database so you check and see what kind of treasure chest your bank got.
Instead of messing with Wolverine, smarmy Marvel anti-hero Deadpool has his sights set on a Long Island screenwriter. He’s called upon his bosses at 20th Century Fox to sue the writer for $15 million because she posted Fox screenplays, including an early copy of the script from his upcoming movie, the New York Post reports.
Low-ranking government apparatchiks are wasting taxpayer dollars and violating our trust by exploiting their access to massive government databases to look up private information on their neighbors and ex-spouses, and “doc gawk” on celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Matt Damon, James Taylor, and Tom Brady.
When an insurer decides whether to offer you a new policy, or whether to raise rates on a current one, he most likely pulls a CLUE report that lists any homeowner or automobile insurance loss claims (or sometimes even just inquiries) that you’ve made over the past 3-7 years. Hopefully you monitor your consumer credit report for errors, but as you can see, that’s not the only one you should keep an eye on.
Robear wanted to order from shirt.woot, but something strange happened when he went to register. After choosing a username and entering his e-mail address, he noticed that all of the forms were pre-populated with another customer’s information…including that user’s credit card information. He contacted Woot to try to find out what could have happened, but Woot either hasn’t figured it out yet, or just isn’t responding. (UPDATE: Response from Woot below.)
Our sister blog at ConsumerReports.org notes that “current salmonella outbreak caused by tainted peanuts could drag on for as long as two years,” according to the FDA. The Peanut Corp of America may be history, but because peanut butter has such a long shelf life, and because they’re still adding products to the recall list, there may be food items lurking in pantries across the U.S. that are loaded with disease-causing peanuty badness.
Last Friday, Monster.com announced that their database had been attacked, and that account names, passwords, email addresses, and phone numbers had been stolen. Unfortunately, they haven’t sent out email alerts to anyone—they just put the announcement up on the security section of their site. As our tipster Erica points out, “Given people’s tendencies to reuse passwords on multiple sites (BAD!), that they aren’t actively emailing and informing members of this breach is quite irresponsible.”
Why play solitaire when you work for the utility company and can look up the mayor’s phone number? An Associated Press investigation reveals that casual snooping is widespread among employees who have access to large customer databases. According to one utility executive, it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to ferret out employees who use sensitive data for identity theft.
According to the Washington Post, the TSA is compiling extensive traveler records that can track passenger reading preferences. The Automated Targeting System is ostensibly designed to help officials ferret out terrorists; citizens who recently asked the government for records of their travel found that the databases also contains: “a description of a book on marijuana that one of them carried and small flashlights bearing the symbol of a marijuana leaf.” Our government’s long maw even reaches abroad to gather information on flights that don’t brush against U.S. airspace.
Ann Harrison, the communications director for a technology firm in Silicon Valley who was among those who obtained their personal files and provided them to The Post, said she was taken aback to see that her dossier contained data on her race and on a European flight that did not begin or end in the United States or connect to a U.S.-bound flight.
According to the Washington Post, the United States and the European Union have agreed to compile and share a database of information on consumers who travel on aircrafts between the two continents.