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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Privacy concerns about UK e-health project

Further to our blog on "Big Brother", in the UK this detailed report "Warning over privacy of 50m patient files", in the Guardian last week says UK personal medical records are to be uploaded to a central national data base, regardless of the wishes of the patient.

The data base will be accessible by up to 250,000 National Health Service staff, and there is continuing uncertainty about access by other government agencies including the police and security services.

The Guardian is promoting a boycott. Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University says if enough people protest, "with a bit of luck the service will be abandoned".

Australian medical practitioners and the Australian Law Reform Commission have recently highlighted concern about privacy laws and medical records.

The NSW Healthelink pilot project is based on automatic inclusion of health records on a data base unless a person acts to opt out. One of the privacy concerns about the project - similar to UK concerns - is that it does not provide for differential access. Any person who has access to the data base can access the complete health record of an individual.

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