When will this be hacked?

Jan 16, 2014

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Nature carries a rightly critical piece about the lack of meaningful consent of collection of what was once private data between a doctor and patient.

“The name of the programme is care.data — not that you would know that from the leaflet, which neglects to mention it. From this spring, information from medical consultations, for example on diagnoses and treatments prescribed, that was once confidential between a person and their doctor, will be uploaded to a central database. There  it will be combined with hospital and other medical records. This will become one of the world’s most complete databases on the health care of patients. Initially, the data will be used to help health authorities to manage NHS resources, but the plan is to eventually open up the database to researchers and private companies.”

The issues is not about whether this data is valuable, but about whether the process is that which most of us would judge as meaningfully  informed consent. Interesting to hear what Ross Anderson would say about the security engineering issues.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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