Fact Check

Obamacare Website Accidentally Enrolls Thousands in Sex Offender Registry

Did the federal insurance exchange web site accidentally enter thousands of people into a sex offender registry?

Published Oct 23, 2013


Claim:   The federal insurance exchange web site accidentally entered thousands of people into a sex offender registry.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, October 2013]

Is the Obamacare sex offender registry story true?


Origins:   On 21 October 2013, the Daily Currant published an article positing that thousands of people who had used the "Obamacare" federal insurance exchange web site to find health coverage plans had accidentally been entered into a government sex offender registry:

The federal health care exchange at Heathcare.gov has accidentally enrolled thousands of applicants in the government's sex offender registry, the latest of many technical failures to hit the troubled site.

According to several senior officials, since the exchange went live on Oct. 1 around 40,000 individuals looking to buy insurance have instead been listed on the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), a searchable database of rapists, molesters and others convicted of sex crimes.

The mix up was first discovered by people searching for sex offenders in their neighborhoods, only to find their own names. Administrators are uncertain how such an error occurred, but they note that both websites were built by the same contractor, CGI Federal.

By the end of the day links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered it mistaking it for a genuine news item. However, the article was just a bit of political humor from the Daily Currant that spoofed the multiple technical problems users encountered with the online federal health insurance exchange after that system was launched on the web at the beginning of October 2013.

As noted in the Daily Currant's "About" page, that web site deals strictly in satire:

The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media.

Q. Are your news stories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world.

Last updated:   23 October 2013

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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