Today’s Daily Mail reports on the latest NHS database plan, which will see information held in GP’s surgeries being extracted and transferred to a new central system.
The agenda in the NHS to share data is far more than just monitoring how heath services are used. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end for patient privacy in the NHS.
Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, told the paper: ‘Under these proposals, medical confidentiality is, in effect, dead and there is currently nobody standing in the way.’
The Government’s use of the Cloud may be put on hold after Members of Parliament raised concerns that the service allows sensitive personal information about British citizens to be spied on by the US authorities.
A European Commission report highlights how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendment Act (FISAA) allows US authorities to spy on cloud data. This could include services such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud and Google Drive.
In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the law which requires people to disclose all previous convictions to certain employers is a breach of human rights.
In this case, a 21 year old man wanted cautions to be removed from his criminal record. His crime, being accused of stealing two bicycles at aged 11. Information about the cautions had been flagged up when applying for a part-time job at a local football club at the age of 17 and later when he applied for a university course in sports studies.
An urgent reform of the Criminal Records Bureau is required. This case highlights how the Coalition’s reforms have not gone far enough and the CRB system continues to lead to absurd results in too many cases, including thousands of people being wrongly branded criminals.
In a landmark legal action, a group of Apple customers in the UK are suing Google for deliberately snooping on them, after Google despite setting their iPhone security to say they did not want to be tracked.
You can find out more and join the legal action here
The much publicised Safari tracking episode resulted in a $22.5m fine from the FTC in America, however no penalty has been handed out by the UK’s Information Commissioner. When consumers see their private data being harvested on an industrial scale, with little reaction from the regulators, it is little wonder that they react by taking legal proceedings into their own hands.
This week, Big Brother Watch submitted our response to the consultation on Judicial Review. In conclusion, we say:
“An overwhelming number of points in the consultation document are anecdotal and unsubstantiated; indeed many are contradicted by official figures. This consultation is absolutely not a document that should be relied upon when embarking on reform of one of our most fundamental legal rights.”
Along with many other organisations, we’ve highlighted the startling lack of evidence in the Ministry of Justice’s consultation document. Anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims are casually deployed to justify reducing the scope of when judicial review applications can be made, but the underlying figures overwhelmingly undermine the department’s claims.
A councillor from Cornwall Council has resigned in protest of the council’s use of lie detectors to help catch benefit cheats. We congratulate Councillor Ferguson for taking the the moral high ground when it comes to privacy and proportionality in councils.
Councillor Ferguson took exception to the Council signing up to a contract with Capita to provide “voice risk analysis” as part of a scheme to help combat benefit fraud. The contract comes at a cost of £50,000 with the Council promising that the system could save at least £1 million. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this technology actually even works.
In a greater step towards transparency, South Yorkshire and Cleveland Police Forces have announced that they will publish full details of dismissals and resignations due to disciplinary circumstances on their websites.
Having raised several concerns about the level of transparency and accountability in the aftermath of data breaches this is a welcome step. Our research has shown that over a period of three years: 243 Police officers and staff from forces around the country received criminal convictions for breaching the Data Protection Act (DPA); 98 had their employment terminated for breaching the DPA; and 904 were subjected to internal disciplinary procedures for breaching the DPA.
Today’s Daily Mail carries a suitably sensational story courtesy of the Government’s new advisor on childhood.
According to the piece, “Claire Perry said that in a world where youngsters are surrounded by online dangers, parents should challenge the ‘bizarre’ idea that their children have the right to keep their messages private.” In other words (as the paper’s headline suggests) if you’re a parent, you should “Snoop on your child’s texts”.
We’re not entirely sure how a Conservative MP and a newspaper usually committed to reducing state interference in our lives are able to square away issuing parenting diktats, but more concerning is the total lack of any evidence to support these claims.
Today’s announcement from the Health Secretary that all patient medical records will be held in electronic form by 2018 has grabbed some headlines, but the underlying privacy risks seem to have been given short shrift.
Paperless records is a nice soundbite but the change creates significant privacy risks. The Department of Health needs to be absolutely clear who will hold our medical records, who can access them and reassure patients that their privacy will not be destroyed in another NHS IT blunder.
Detail on how patients will give their consent, who will have access and what rights patients will have after sharing is sparse. As we have previously highlighted, barely any NHS systems have the ability to give patients the option of seeing who has looked at their medical records. Without this audit trail, abuse is often very difficult to spot.