LETTER: Rights to privacy are trampled on

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I wrote to you recently about the latest Government ‘good idea’ - basically for our personal medical records to be winging their way to life insurance companies, or anyone else willing to pay the asking price under the Government’s Care.data scheme.

I did mention that this isn’t, exactly, how the Government is selling their Care.data scheme initiative to us. They say, the data, which will comprise all of our healthcare records, will be anonymised.

However, as I mentioned the Government isn’t being honest. As an IT and ‘big data’ specialist I can tell you that there is no such thing as anonymised data.

By correlating multiple known data sets against an anonymised data set it is possible to discover exactly who the majority of the people, in so-called anonymised data sets, really are - and health and life insurance companies would be able to discriminate on the basis of information they could glean. It has been estimated that it will take less than two hours for an expert to de-anonymise the data.

Information, once freed, cannot be made confidential again.

I also stated that ‘IT’ and ‘Government’ are not a good or trusted combination.

So, I have written to my local doctors’ practice to state that I am not giving my permission allowing this to happen. I am opting out and I recommend everyone to do the same.

However, I am outraged to now learn that opting out does not stop my personal medical data being transferred to the Care.data databases.

GP magazine, Pulse, reported on the 7th February 2014, ‘Patients who have opted out of the scheme will still have their records sent to the HSCIC stripped of identifiers’. This is buried on page 9 of NHS England’s recently-published, ‘Care.data Privacy Impact Assessment’, document, which states: ‘Where patients have objected to the flow of their personal confidential data from the general practice record, the HSCIC will receive clinical data without any identifiers attached (i.e. anonymised data)’.

This means the intention is to still extract the information from the medical records of people who have opted out.

This is not what any reasonable person would understand by ‘opt out’ – if you opt out, no information from your medical record should leave your GP practice.

We are not being notified. We are not being consulted. We are being personally abused by a Government, and politicians, who are supposedly serving you and I.

As with all things organised by our elitist and arrogant politicians we, the people they represent, are considered too stupid to know what is good is for us and our wishes are ignored.

I suggest everyone writes to their Member of Parliament and the Secretary of State for Health stating they are not happy with their rights and privileges to privacy, confidentiality and democratic representation being trampled on, abused and ignored.

PETER GRACE

Chanctonbury, Ashington