Not Quite the Biggest Privacy Breach in History

Hot on the heels of Senator Conroy’s “Cavalcade of Frivolous Attacks on the Internet”, and his stinging “greatest single breach of privacy in history” attack on Google, his friends over in the Health Department are doing some information profiling of their own.

Here’s the quote that interests me:

Earlier this week, Health Minister Nicola Roxon revealed that as a part of its $466.7 million investment in e-health in this year’s Federal Budget, the government will be developing a portal that patients can log into to see information contained on their e-health records, but Roxon said it could be up to two years before this system was in place.

Now, admittedly, the provision of your “health id” to your medical provider will be voluntary, but there is every chance that a great many people will not understand that, and will think that they are compelled to hand over this number, much as you hand over your Medicare card when you visit the doctor now.

So for two years, all your medical information will then be collected by “the government”, before you’re even able to find out what they have collected – and some people won’t even know. This legislation has been hammered through – (it was only passed last week) – with little or no fanfare.

As for public consultation…*crickets chirping*…

Yes – you can opt out of this by not providing your number – but the bounds of doctor/patient confidentiality has just become rather blurred, as there is now an “official” mechanism whereby a third-party – (in this case the government) – can step over that line.

Like I said, “not quite” a breach of privacy (since you can opt-out), but the government are about to start holding a lot of personal information about a lot of people, who won’t understand that fact.

If they ever realise at all.