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New Jersey could soon be missing a critical opportunity to enhance public health and welfare if it does not pass pending legislation to collect sex, gender and sexual orientation statistical information like its sister jurisdiction Pennsylvania, as well as California, Washington, Michigan and New Mexico, are already doing.  The Bills, A4137/S2459 (Huttle/Murphy/Weinberg/Greenstein) and A1060 (Jassey/Zwicker/Downey/Huttle), are currently pending before the New Jersey Legislature and would address a disparity in health data collection and analysis that could provide critical insight into health status and outcomes for these communities. The proposed law would authorize collection of data by voluntary disclosure for the purpose of statistical research and study to improve the delivery of government services as well as health care and education. It would ensure the collection of self-disclosed information about sex, gender identity and sexual orientation across all state agencies and in hospitals and health-care facilities.

Data collection and analysis are critical components of well-run systems and successful operations. Numerous companies including Google, Facebook and others openly acknowledge this practice, ostensibly to help provide better and more focused services to their customers, but also to mine and aggregate user data to create marketable profiles that they use, lease or sell. There are even more companies that you likely have not heard of, so-called data brokers, that traffic in such information—the clicking and buying patterns of purchasing choices that allow them to analyze who you are as a consumer and predict your future consumer spending. These companies transact in data exactly for the reasons you already know they do it—data has immense power to unlock the puzzle of predictive human behavior.

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