Saturday, February 2, 2013

Everyone Counts (except you) . . . A timely reminder about government exercise of power

Via Drudge, we learn this from the London Daily Mail Feb 1:

The British National Health Service (NHS) is launching a program called Everyone Counts.  This program requires family physicians to hand over to NHS their patients’ confidential and personally-identifiable records including drinking habits, waist size, weight, cholesterol, BMI, family health history and pulse rate, and other details.  Physicians are ordered to comply.  Patients cannot opt out.

NHS plans to “analyze” the data.

I’ll just bet they do, too.

NHS officials say the data will be stored in a giant information bank where, they insist, it will be “anonymous and deleted after analysis.”

This raises several questions about the program er, excuse me, programme. 

Will anonymous third-parties be supplied with this patient data for analysis? 

Is the patient data easier to hack when it resides in a “giant information bank” or when it's supplied to an unknown number of anonymous third-parties, or when it remains where it is now, in tens of thousands of physician office files?

How long “after analysis” will NHS delete the data?  A day?  A decade?

Here's a better question  – will a day ever come that is "after" NHS “analysis” ends?

Here's the best question of all – what reasons do the British public have, to believe anything NHS officials say about this new program, er programme?

This seems to me a timely reminder that, when the people agree to give powers to the government, the government will actually, you know, use those powers.  This also seems a timely reminder that sometimes governments will use their powers for purposes the people don’t want - and which the government may strenuously deny it's doing.  Thus, the article quotes an unidentified NHS spokesman: "The NHS constitution makes clear what information can be used for by the NHS and this proposal complies exactly with that."

History teaches that to expect governments to behave otherwise is foolishly na├»ve. 

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