Thursday, April 07, 2016

This Is All Part Of The Effort The Government Is Undertaking To Really Take Away Any Concept Of Health Information Privacy.

I spotted this last week:

Why you might want to become a Jedi Knight for this year’s Census

In the week before Christmas last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics quietly trashed your privacy. We have only a few months to claim it back.
In December 2015, the ABS announced its plans to collect and keep the name and address of every person in Australia, starting with the August 2016 census. And to then use your name and address, to link your census answers to other sets of data, like health and educational records, so that the ABS can develop “a richer and dynamic statistical picture of Australia through the combination of Census data with other survey and administrative data”.
That’s right – census data could be linked to health records too. So that the ABS can do things like “(understand) and support … people who require mental health services”.
This proposal represents the most significant and intrusive collection of identifiable data about you, me, and every other Australian, that has ever been attempted. It will allow the ABS to build up, over time, a rich and deep picture of every Australian’s life, in an identifiable form.
Up until now, the name and address portion of census forms was not retained by the ABS; just as soon as the rest of your census answers were transcribed, the paper forms were destroyed.
But the new proposal is to keep name and address, as well as your answers to all the Census questions included this year, such as sex, age, marital status, indigenous status, religious affiliation, income, education level, ancestry, language spoken at home, occupation, work address, previous home address, vehicles garaged at your address, and the relationships between people living in the same home.
Statements from the ABS which trivialise the risks posed by stripping away census anonymity have missed the point. Seeking to justify the proposal by saying that the ABS will never release identifiable information ignores the point that they shouldn’t have it in the first place. And, as my mother taught me – you shouldn’t make promises you cannot keep.
The risks include leaks from corrupted ABS staff, or organised criminals who wish to perpetrate identity theft and fraud by hacking into the database. The ABS is not magically immune to the risk of data breaches. It was only last year that one of their staff was convicted of leaking data to a friend at the NAB as part of a multi-million dollar insider trading scam.
Here is the link:
Here are the document links:
I you think the Government is not going to use all this information to poke around and look at you healthcare records I reckon you are dreaming…


Anonymous said...

I don't subscribe to this 'taking away of Health Information Privacy'. If we continue to keep holding data in silos in Australia, eg. Census, Health, Human Services etc., we are never going to be able to leverage the power of analytics to truly understand the relationship between health and social and identify current areas of need. We also want to be able to use this combined data identify when people are potentially heading towards a crisis, so they can be managed before they reach the precipice with a long journey back to recovery.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

IMHO, it's not the objective that's the problem it's the way they go about doing it.

If the government is serious about using large amounts of highly private personal data and are convinced of the value of doing it they should do it properly.

They would need to set up an organistion that was charged with gathering and analysing data and producing reports/conclusions and that's all. Legislation would be passed specifying what they are allowed to do, and all the protections needed to reduce the risks to privacy.

A brick and steel wall would be constructed around the organisation such that requests for investigations/research go in and results come out.

Models for this type of organisation already exist - ASIO, ABS and Crimtrac spring to mind.

I assume you don't know a lot about these organisations and how they work?