UK Police And Companies Will Have Access To Database Of All England's Medical Records

from the privacy-disaster-waiting-to-happen dept

The UK government is currently building a database called care.data that will contain all of England's medical records. It's being promoted as providing valuable information for healthcare management and medical researchers that will lead to improved treatment.

Given the extremely sensitive nature of the material that will be stored, you might have expected this to be opt-in, but instead the UK government has chosen to make it opt-out. Not only that, but the relatively sparse information about what was happening was sent in the form of a generic, unaddressed letter that differs little from the dozens of junk mail pieces received by most households each week, and failed to include any easy-to-use opt-out form.

This has fuelled suspicions that the UK government is making it hard to opt out in order to keep the numbers enrolled in the database as high as possible. More recently, good reasons why people might want to avoid the scheme have emerged. For example, it was revealed that as well as being provided to research scientists, the database could also be bought by companies:

Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients -- including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits -- once a single English database of medical data has been created.
Now we learn that the UK police will also have access:
The database that will store all of England's health records has a series of "backdoors" that will allow police and government bodies to access people's medical data.
As the UK MP David Davis told the Guardian:
"The idea that police will be able to request information from a central database without a warrant totally undermines a long-held belief in the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship," he said.
That means that as well as the risk of a privacy disaster of unprecedented proportions if the consolidated health data is lost or stolen as a result of being passed to third parties (as has already happened with a similar but smaller database), patients may be less likely to confide in their doctors knowing that details will end up in a database sold to companies and freely available to the police. Nice work, Mr Cameron.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 1:16am

    A FOI request revealed that the company running this database would continue to using Windows XP after its phase out date and would not be purchasing any support from Microsoft.

    If that is their security practice what hope is their for everybodies data in the database?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 1:40am

    The Cameron guy seems worse than Hitler

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 1:40am

    Re:

    Why does everyone now have medical records of receiving "butt surgery" from a "Dr. I. P. Freely?" in 1887?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 2:11am

    Steps towards a fascist state:

    1. Create a profile of the population. Race, Health, Foreigners, any undesired type.
    2. When in full control, purge the undesirables.
    3. Profit!

    Applies to companies by replacing 2 with "don't hire undesirables.

    Cameron is one kind of an asshole eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 2:20am

    Re:

    While I don't like Cameron myself...really? You're saying that Cameron is worse than a guy who started a world war that cost (last estimate) 50 million lives?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 2:25am

    Ever since I got that spammy flyer in the post I was wondering what the real angle was.

    Time to properly opt out of this shit.

    Dave and his government have yet to do anything positive since they got into power. I guess we will get Labour in the next election, not that it will change much.

     

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  7.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 2:34am

    And of course I'm sure no medical record of politicians will be on that database, after all, can't have those filthy commoners browsing through private medical records, that's a privilege for the rich, powerful, and their enforcers. /s

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    The Old Man in The Sea, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:08am

    Re: Re:

    I did a bit tracking a couple of years ago and found the following estimates:

    Civilian casualties (dead and/or missing) over 110 million
    Military casualties (dead and/or missing) under 1 million.

    European theatre. I didn't look at the estimates for the Asian theatre.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    For what it's worth, Wikipedia has these numbers.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties#USSR

    Military casualties for the Soviet Union alone are in the multiple millions range, so I'd like to know where you got your under 1 million number from.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:25am

    Re:

    Wouldn't surprise me if he was a member of the Gestapo in a previous life, what with all the freedom hating bullshit he pulls.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:45am

    Re:

    Fuck Hitler, he was a pussy cat compared to what the US did to native American Indians.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:45am

    Re: no medical record of politicians

    no they wont as they all went to Eton and have all their medical work done privately. I doubt any have ever been treated in an NHS hospital. Not that their records will be any safer being held/sold/passed around for laughs by BUPA.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:47am

    Re:

    For sure, look at how much easier it is for "people of importance" to get themselves removed from the UK's DNA database.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 4:23am

    To a certain extent one can understand the need for governments to have comprehensive/systematic data about it's population - take census information for example, it identifies demographic trends, emergent social groups, and can be essential in providing the provision of public planning and delivery of essential services i.e schools, hospitals, public infrastructure, etc

    However, i think this principal becomes fairly dubious when it isn't automatically anonymized - there is no reason to keep individual records with unique markers on a database - it poses threats to personal privacy, and given the fairly rampant abuses of trust we've seen from various government agencies, i see no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt that the information won't be inappropriately accessed/compromised in some capacity.

    Also; the unique interpretation of 'opt-out' is a fairly Orwellian linguistic creep, it's an interesting (if not frightening) example of the ways in which language can be manipulated to obscure understanding and debate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 4:39am

    My province in canada (health = provincial responsability in .ca, americans who are all about states rights should look at how much power provinces have here) did this shit last year, at least, building a database where all doctors and pharmacists can have access to your file. They sent people opt-out sheets. I filed it. Then I wasn't home but a civil servant from the health ministry called me a couple times to ask me why I didn't want to be part of it....I didn't call back, I wrote in the reason in the "Comments" part of the form.

    Even if I filed that form, it said something that my privacy wouldn't be as protected as if I had filled that form about a year before. (they didn't word it this way, but I wasn't as protected as the people who knew about it a year before there was ANY publicity about this in the media) meaning obviously that all health workers like docs, nurses and the others obviously had a chance to fill the form before said date, i think it was march 2012 and I filled the form in 2013. I forgot what extra protections filling the form before march 2012 did, but it was such an obvious HAHA FUCK YOU to anybody who procured the form online after that date (those mailed to people did not have this information).

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 4:45am

    Re: Re:

    He's trying hard to be worse than Harper. It's like a fascist tournament all over the commonwealth. note the return of Abbott in australia

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 4:59am

    Drug and insurance companies ,police and government bodies.
    so pretty much anyone who works for these corps or govs has access , that only leaves about 100 people out who won't know about your medical history.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 5:53am

    Setting up a database of everyone's medical records isn't as controversial as it sounds, in the UK, all the doctor offices and hospitals are owned by the government, all the doctors and nurses and government employees. So it makes sense that the government has the records, since they own the hospitals, so how can they not have access to the records in some part of the government?

    But that being said, to then allow warrantless access to the records, and selling the data, that's a much different story. While selling the data might make sense if you remove basic identifying info from it to keep it anonymous, since there are legitimate uses of it, the police having warrant-less access to the database is not. Plus, throwing backdoors into the database for the cops makes it less secure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 5:55am

    Re:

    Now, now: Cameron isn't after the Jews, homosexuals, or the disabled. Gypsies? I'm not sure.

    In any case, Godwin's Law applies.

    As does the phrase, "Sold us down the river."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    Except that the pharmaceutical companies need us to be sick in order to make money from us.

    The profit, I presume, is to pay for the building of the database now that he's given all our money away to the rich so they can hide it in offshore accounts. Apparently, this was supposed to trickle down to us, but I've seen none of it so far.

    As you Americans say, "Follow the money." If the trail leads to a Tory MP with a directorship or relative in the company involved, it's a fair bet that the profit will be going to him or her.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    I'm_Having_None_Of_It, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    Ah, so I'm not the only one having nightmares over scammers and spammers getting hold of my personal data. Time for a strongly-worded letter to my MP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:06am

    they lost one case already a few yars back under article 8 of echr.

    was about storing data of innocent people.

    this is another clear cut case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    Well, that's the other shoe isn't it because the other thing that Cameron's tories are doing is privatising many, many parts of the NHS. Currently a lot of services within the NHS are being provided by 3rd party contractors, like virgin.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    Oh yeah, that's the third shoe. They don't like the ECHR rulings either and have declared a desire to do away with the human rights act and replace it with some kind British tory act of temporary and arbitrary privileges.

    http://www.theguardian.com/law/2013/sep/30/conservitives-scrap-human-rights-act

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re:

    Well, that'd be hyperbole wouldn't it.
    Anyway, Hitler was a moderately competent genocidal maniac
    and we can safely say that Cameron is neither a maniac, nor genocidal, or for that matter competent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:58am

    So they follow your finances, take your phones 'metadata', scan your emails, and have your medical records.

    And how is this 'legal' again?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:00am

    I might start myself a company.

    Just to request health info on Cameron and cohorts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:17am

    Priorities?

    So medical health record big brother system is opt out but porn is opt in?!? Dafuq.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    The whole undesireables thing is a means to an end though. Fascism is about control and the will of the state.

    The state needs a bogey man to blame problems on. They pick a minority group which the broader population is already uncomfortable with (typically for irrational reasons), and demonize and dehumanize them. Once they do it to the Jews/Gays/Arabs/whoever, it's much easier to get away with it for others. Slippery slope, etc...

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    Not the same. The Indians started as many fights against the white man as they started against the Indians. For the most part, it was a 2-way war where one side just happened to have well-advanced technology. In Germany, it was genocide against someone who wasn't even fighting.

    Plus, I don't think there were even 6 million Indians in the US to kill.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:44am

    everything that happens in the UK comes to the USA and vice versa. be prepared people, it will soon be in a squad room near you!!

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    OK, let's run a pool.

    How long until the entire database shows up on Wikileaks?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Uh huh, Who was handing out the smallpox laced blankets?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    Canada has removed the mandatory Census we had every since 6 years or so, now it's mandatory and scientists at Stats Canada who compile actual useful data are now being prevented from doing their job, like many other scientists working for this joke of a "conservative" government. It's more like the Canadian wing of the Likud (anybody aware of Harper's little escapade in late january will know what I mean right here).

    'Taxpayer money could be used to have scientists put up stats we ideologically disagree with hence cannot be reasoned with! Slash budgets/cancel programs/close down veterans and Canada Oceans libraries, throw all that data in the garbage! (tons of scientists have garbage dumped to get literally tons of knowledge going back to 1800's) while the government promises it still has one copy of each of these books and will digitize them. How much do you guys bet they will then only sell that data which used to be public domain afterwards?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    I like having an account at multiple pharmacies. Had I signed this bullshit form from my provincial government, all pharmacies would be able to see what I do with the others and take away my rights to do business somewhere for certain med and do business at another place for other things. Using more than one pharmacy and having a pharmacist know it unless you have a good reason (I was leaving the hospital with a script and you guys don't open until 9 am, they were open at 8 am), and be confronted about how "did you go to a different pharmacy for this medication last week?" (mildy controlled medication, diazepam, not even a painkiller). Of course the c**t female pharmacist (fem pharmacists are the worse, at least when dealing with males) considered me a suspicious drug seeking junkie and called my main pharmacy about this purchase. Well I never went back to their business, even if they open an hour earlier than the pharmacy I deal with the most, which is right in front of my condo.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 9:42am

    Cameron is building the ultimate, centralized, honeypot. Plus he's giving nearly everyone access to it. It's enough to make me stop going to the doctor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Britons love surveillance

    It's the UK. Is anybody surprised? They're worse than the United States when it comes to government surveillance, and that's saying a lot. Rendering medical data subject to warrantless lookups is just another nail in privacy's coffin.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    aldestrawk (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    This is actually a good idea as long as the records are anonymized well enough. Anonymization of medical data can be difficult when dealing with rare diseases or medical conditions. Let's take a look at how the care.data system handles this.

    "Your date of birth, full postcode, NHS Number and gender rather than your name will be used to link your records in a secure system, managed by the HSCIC. Once this information has been linked, a new record will be created. This new record will not contain information that identifies you. The type of information shared, and how it is shared, is controlled by law and strict confidentiality rules."

    See, the database will not contain information that identifies you. Problem solved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Jan Breens (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    It's even worse than you thought

    If you read the article on the guardian, the true horror show begins. Police have access to your information, even when you've opted out!

    Link: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/06/police-backdoor-access-nhs-health-records

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    I am getting really pissed of with the opt-out mentality instead of the opt-in...........its just another form to take choice away, and they must think they are such clever bastards.........one thing i can assure them for sure, they are NOT clever

    So what happens to the MAJORITY of people who dont even KNOW aboit it, where was THEIR choice, will you then make the argument to future protests that
    "Well, many people have signed onto it already, so it must be ok"

    Fucking predictable fucking behaviour

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 7:02pm

    Coming to an Amerika near you

    Soon the US will do the same. Nothing like caoitalizing on all the data a government has. I bet the NSA will do it too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Lars, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 2:16am

    BE QUICK!

    You only have until March to opt-out ('informed dissent') of this scheme - and after that YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO and your records will be permanently at risk. So, if you are not happy to have your records used in this way, contact your doctor and refuse consent NOW!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Parrot, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 2:20am

    Re: Re:

    You really think that's going to make the slightest bit of difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Striife, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 2:46am

    Re: Re:

    And how many lives do you think will be lost if this tit gets what he wants and is able to bomb the shit out of syria?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 3:39am

    Re: Re:

    it's early days yet mate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Feb 12th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re:

    While I don't like Cameron myself...really? You're saying that Cameron is worse than a guy who started a world war that cost (last estimate) 50 million lives?

    Hitler was defeated!

    So far Cameraon hasn't been!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Feb 12th, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    Gambling on death made easy.

    "Drug and insurance companies will from later this year be able to buy information on patients -- including mental health conditions and diseases such as cancer, as well as smoking and drinking habits -- once a single English database of medical data has been created.

    Not surprising at all, since corporations now take out insurance on their employees such that, should an employee die on the job, the company wins a huge insurance settlement.

    This has become common practice and by getting the government to make all the medical records legally available to the corporations, they can better determine which employees are most likely to die on the job and thus can place their bets better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Mimbly, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 12:09am

    Re: Access to medical data

    Hitler made a database for his death list. All the undesirables .
    Our government have harvested much information already from surveillance of our private data
    Think about it, facebook, twitter etc. They know many's political views, search your ancestry type databases give them your complete family " racial" status, now health records complete the picture. Now what on earth could the " police" do with our records? Add surveillance drones with " corporate" entities in charge. We do not have a bright future

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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