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Privacy Government Medicine United Kingdom

UK Police Will Have Backdoor Access To Health Records 108

Posted by timothy
from the public-servants'-prerogative dept.
kc123 writes "David Davis MP, a former shadow home secretary, has told the Guardian that police would be able to access the new central NHS database without a warrant as critics warn of catastrophic breach of trust. 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. In the past police would need to track down the GP who held a suspect's records and go to court for a disclosure order. Now, they would be able to simply approach the new arms-length NHS information centre, which will hold the records. 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."
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UK Police Will Have Backdoor Access To Health Records

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here [pastebin.com] so links don't get mangled!)

    On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot d

    • by flyneye (84093)

      U.K. Police have back door access to each other.
      Just like U.S. cops. Gonna go down to the gym and pump each other.
      Sayyyy, youre a bossy little fuck for an Anarchist. How bout you quit whining about /.s stinking Beta thats bad as an Alpha and no one likes anyway.
      Eventually the people behind the scenes will pull their heads from each others rectums and figure out nobody but them is down with their illogical changes.
      Quit whinin like a sister-boy, Mary!

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup...

      You don't block javascript so you don't have to see popups and popunders? What kind of nerd are you?

      • by qpqp (1969898)

        What kind of nerd are you?

        One that prefers a modern browser over lynx on my desktop.

        You don't block javascript [...] ?

        I use adblock for that and delete offending divs on those few sights manually when they block my sight (i.e. right-click -> inspect element -> backspace, or right-click -> block this ad). Why would I block JS if half the www depends on it?
        Actual popups & co. are blocked by my browser out of the box.

        I wish I could as easily block the beta from happening...

  • I work in this area (but in another country).
    This move would be a quite unbelievable breach of the confidentiality normally expected when personal medical data is involved.
    Almost as bad as the BETA, oops.
    Cheers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrbester (200927)

      The fun part being that once your data is on this access-for-all database it isn't yours anymore and thus you have no say in how it is doled out to all and sundry. There can't be a privacy violation if the new data owner (whichever dolt is Secretary of State for health at the time) allows it.

      • Re:Unbelievable (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rich0 (548339) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:09AM (#46194915) Homepage

        The fun part being that once your data is on this access-for-all database it isn't yours anymore and thus you have no say in how it is doled out to all and sundry. There can't be a privacy violation if the new data owner (whichever dolt is Secretary of State for health at the time) allows it.

        Honestly, I'm fine with SOME change in the traditional doctor/patient relationship. For example, I think it is fine to be able to mine the database in aggregate for information that could be used to improve public health. I'd even be fine with mining the database to find individuals and contacting them to request their consent to participate in studies that would improve public health (and possibly their own).

        However, the theme here is that this is about using the data in a way that generally protects the individual interest and which provides a general benefit to everybody, and perhaps even a specific benefit to the individual whose data is accessed.

        All of this would be controlled as well - queries of data would be a part of a study and would be reviewed before they could be run to ensure that data being extracted is appropriately de-personalized. If the intent is to contact individuals then the investigators would provide the criteria, and perhaps evaluate a data set which has been blinded (map identifiers to a study-specific set for which the government holds the relationship table). Then the investigator would provide the list of blinded IDs to contact, and the government would handle communications, perhaps directly or through the local doctor. Again everything would be controlled like any other clinical trial in terms of review of consent forms, proper disclosure, etc.

        Police access to this data is of course outrageous. This gives individuals incentive to not participate which has impact to both their personal health and public health.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          You can't opt out, you must participate if you want to use the NHS. You can opt out of the data being shared with other doctors, but not the police.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            You can't opt out, you must participate if you want to use the NHS. You can opt out of the data being shared with other doctors, but not the police.

            Oh, I understand that. I'm just saying that this will give people incentive to not receive care from the NHS, or to conceal things from their doctors, or to bribe their doctors to provide advice without updating the database, etc. All of these things degrade the quality of both individual and public health (do you want people with infectious diseases walking around untreated?).

      • Re:Unbelievable (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Teun (17872) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @01:05PM (#46196433) Homepage
        I'm wasting some mod points replying on your writings because you are very wrong.

        Private data, and can it get more private than medical information? is per EU law yours and will always stay yours.
        This is not the USofA where a corp can legally sell your stuff, not even in the case of bankruptcy.

        Now even EU law has some exceptions to this rule and law enforcement is one of them but it would still require judicial (court) oversight, no blanket trawling.

        Rather cynical is this idea is promoted by the same Cameron government that complains the Brussels's 'meddling' in it's internal affairs is wrong and needs to be stopped!

        • by Teun (17872)
          Oh yes, and then there is this little thing called the Hippocratic Oath [wikipedia.org], it is a scary thought that only 50% of British physicians actually swear it compared to 98% in the USofA and other developed nations.

          Though this oath does not carry legal weight many Dutch doctors refused to corporate with a similar computer database exactly because they feared their oath would be breached if they did.

          • Re:Unbelievable (Score:4, Informative)

            by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @07:05PM (#46198843) Homepage

            Although the Hippocratic Oath does entreat physicians to keep patient information secret, it also asks the practitioner to pray to some fairly obscure deities (and I would point out that His Noodliness is not among them), prohibits assisted suicide and abortion (at least with a pessary) and to keep one's daughters in the dark. So it's a bit of a wash in the 21st Century.

            But it does point out that, once you put something into a computer database, it's pretty easy to get it out.

            We should go back to stone tablets.

        • Days like this I'm glad I shop around to find old-school paper-using doctors.

          All of my doctors currently make a point that they stick with paper records, and also make it a point to use the most generic diagnostic codes possible to the insurance companies. Blood test results are faxed (I know, right?) and everyone on the staff claims to support medical privacy.

          I don't know what it would take to break their security, but it is better than the companies that share everything with anybody who asks. Hooray fo

        • Maybe this medical sharing law is just a fucking BETA?
      • by Meski (774546)
        SO we fill it up with inaccuracies like we do all of the other databases. That's a great unintended side-effect for a database holding important info.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In what possible scenario would the police need health records?

    • Well, for instanceMaybe if Slashdot were based based in UK, they would be able to see the mental health problems of management, and arrest them under trumped up cahrges before they destroy swathes of actual meaningful communities. Please consider stopping sensible responses to Slashdot articles. Otherwise in a few weeks slashdot will drown under likes and selfies. Your post today kills tomorrow. Think, react, the only good post right now, if you like slashdot is of course, Fuck Beta.
      • Please excuse all the typos there. Something funny gone on with commenting, but still my fault. BETA spoils everything
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 08, 2014 @08:20AM (#46194699)

      Well, for example it can be part of the standard background check of some officer's daughter new boyfriend. Or it can expand the possibilities when trying to get rid of some annoying neighbor.
      Imagine finding out that your son's teacher has followed some opioid replacement therapy!

      All in all, it will make the lives of the wonderful people working in the police easier by giving them more material to exploit against an hostile world populated by devious people.

      • Slashdot is run by the devious. Why are so many of the "on TOpiC" replies by AC's...I wonder if.... oh just FUck Beta
      • by mrbester (200927)

        It's not only the police, but also a nebulous group of "government bodies" which can easily be added to like councils, the Forestry Commission, quango charities and anybody else who has absolutely no reason or justification to see confidential medical records apart from that they want to.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      In what possible scenario would the police need health records?

      Since nobody has suggested it, here is the hypothetical somewhat-legitimate use of this access (though I do not think it should be allowed all the same).

      Health records can be potentially useful in identifying suspects. Suppose a witness notices a distinctive scar on a suspect. A consulting doctor could decide that the scar is likely the result of a particular surgical procedure and a query of the NHS records might provide a fairly short list of everybody who had this procedure performed. Additional data

      • by Teun (17872)
        Exactly, there are plausible arguments to open such databases but even then, medical secrecy is in the Western World the way we used to know it before 9/11 a rather absolute thing and needs serious oversight before it is allowed to be breached, if ever.

        One of the reasons is early legislatures recognised people would feel uncertain if they could be fair and open with their doctor unless such secrecy was guaranteed.

        • by ATMAvatar (648864)
          Now there's no uncertainty. In the UK, you can't be fair and open with your doctor. By doing so, you are also being open with any government agent who decides to take an interest, even if only for personal and nefarious reasons.
    • by allo (1728082)

      Its easier to kill someone, if you know he's got diabetes.

  • information is to prevent bad things from happening. So what happens when a bad thing happens and the police fail to prevent it, even though they have information that clearly indicates something bad is about to happen? I wonder if civil lawsuits against the police (and awards to plaintiffs) will increase.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      information is to prevent bad things from happening. So what happens when a bad thing happens and the police fail to prevent it, even though they have information that clearly indicates something bad is about to happen? I wonder if civil lawsuits against the police (and awards to plaintiffs) will increase.

      Yeah, good luck with that. At least in the US I don't think the police actually have any legal "duty" to stop any particular crime (in the legal liability sense of the word). If you get mugged because the cops are busy tasering some old geezer who didn't show proper respect that's too bad for you.

  • Mr. Moderator, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies: I just can’t believe everyone in here is a friend, and I don’t want to leave anybody out. The question tonight, as I understand it, is “The Slashdot Revolt, and Where Do We Go From Here?” or "What Next?” In my little humble way of understanding it, it points toward either the pitchfork or the codefork.

    Although I’m still a Slashdotter, I’m not here tonight to improve my karma. I’m not here to try and cha

  • Beta is more than cosmetics or aesthetics. The new design ruins the one thing that makes /. what it is -- the commenting system. I only come here for the comments [slashdot.org], not the 2-day old articles nor the erroneous summaries.

    I do not see the changes of Beta as improvements. What is wrong with Slashdot that demands breaking its foundations? This is not change for the sake of change, but, as others have commented, an attempt to monetize /. at any any cost [slashdot.org], and its users be damned.

    Our complaints have fallen on deaf

    • Proven track record innovating and improving iconic websites (CNET.com, Dice.com, Slashdot.org, Sourceforge.net) while protecting their voice and brand integrity

      Not to mention CNET.com has been pretty much ruined. It's nothing but adware loaded crap now. Has SourceForge been messed with yet?

    • by richlv (778496)

      i got "beta" on my phone today while not logged in. i did not know whether i would visit /. in the future if they continue with beta. i do now.

      fuck beta.

  • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @08:54AM (#46194839)

    This is hardly "backdoor". There's a central body, the police can obtain a warrant and then request information from it.

    Doctor-patient confidentiality is a practice with regards to disclosure by doctors. In a practical sense your information is disclosed widely with the government and your insurance company - i.e. Medicare would know for what items I went to the optometrist recently, as would any private insurer I had, because they need to pay for the various line-item billings.

    It's not a meaningful change from standard practice - medical practitioners can already be compelled by the same warrant's to share patient files.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is hardly "backdoor". There's a central body, the police can obtain a warrant and then request information from it.

      The article asserts that they will be able to get information without warrants, though no mechanism for this has been suggested. Are you saying that the article is incorrect?

      • This is hardly "backdoor". There's a central body, the police can obtain a warrant and then request information from it.

        The article asserts that they will be able to get information without warrants, though no mechanism for this has been suggested. Are you saying that the article is incorrect?

        You're right not a warrant, but also not direct access - there's an intermediary. So the pressing issue is probably to have the law changed to still require a warrant, but provide quicker turn-around when one is granted.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You're right not a warrant, but also not direct access - there's an intermediary.

          The point of requiring a warrant is that you can't trust an intermediary. There's really no justification for complaining about using the language "back door". In the USA, we'd perhaps prefer "end run" [around] the law.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      This story is saying that the police don't need a warrant. That is the backdoor. Sure, they could get your records with a court order before, but now they can just get them any time they feel like it. In the UK the doctor-patient relationship is protected and normally only a court can override it in specific circumstances.

      My insurance companies certainly do not know about my eyesight or medical conditions unless I choose to tell them. We have a national health system paid for by taxes anyway, but even if yo

  • Sounds pretty front door to me. Poor terminology understanding by the non-technical, or intentionally making it sound more scary.

    People will end up not going to the doctor, or an underground medical system will arise.

  • That is one way to reduce health care costs I guess.

    drew

  • Not unlike Soulskill yesterday, Timothy's "articles" are following an odd pattern. All articles are approx 3.50 hrs apart. Every one. Are they just automated? Or does "someone" have a specific schedule, of article, fake posts, shills, deletes, mod-downs, coffee, breathe, pray, check its not all a nasty dream.... Rise and repeat.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A long string of them abusing privacy, selling records, brutality and common abuse like this http://21stcenturywire.com/201... [21stcenturywire.com]
  • Hrmph (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @09:20AM (#46194955)

    It's a good thing we won world war 2 isn't it.

    At least we've had sixty years of freedom.

  • The UK doesn't seem to give a toss about its obligations as an EU member, but giving complete police access to medical records without court order appears to violate EU privacy guidelines. Never mind all reasonable expectations of privacy. Here's a telegraph article which suggests that the NHS policy violates EU guidelines and could lead to a ban. That the UK would likely ignore.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/hea... [telegraph.co.uk]

    Honestly, there are places where national health care systems really do work. But man does the US

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well no you haven't because you are here on /. But lets just say you are one of the lucky ones who are just passing through and have had a STD and have gone to the doctor to get the fix. So now some conservative government decides for the betterment of civilization that everybody who has ever been treated for a STD gets rounded up and put into education camps and forced to use beta until they see that it's better than the alternative.

  • There once was a geezer from Kent
    Who reeked of an unpleasant scent
    With records of rectum
    The cops could inspect 'im
    His backdoor, they learned, was the vent

  • The United Kingdom has not adopted a HIPAA "like" policy that protects patient privacy and, as a matter of fact, the UK does not feel the same need for privacy and other human rights that the US embraces (we had a war over this, remember?). Remember the prank call where the radio show host posing as the Queen called the hospital for info on the pregnant Kate, wife of prince William? That ended with a suicide and some firings. In the US, that would have ended, at worse, with the firing of the person that div
    • by magpie (3270)
      Which NHS? The rules for NHS Scotland I believe are different, different legal system and all (there is no such thing as a UK wide NHS).
  • Only applies to NHS England as there is no UK NHS, and never has been, for those confused (mostly in better together), the Scottish NHS is septate and always has been :-D. Thank god(dess) for our septate legal system. Out of interest does this mean all the UK police forces can have a nose about NHS England’s records?
  • I dont go to the doctor anymore, not worth the price hospital bill. I have several things that might one day kill me but that is just my luck. I die when I die. It is now a police state/world I don't really care if I stay or if I go. I think joining the army might have cause this instead of stopping it. I am sorry world.

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