Quote Of The Year

Quotes Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Privacy – The Global Perspective and Australia’s Position

The following report on global respect for individual privacy and the levels of surveillance of citizens in most developed countries and some others was released this week.


Privacy International and EPIC launch Privacy and Human Rights global study


Each year since 1997, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of technology, surveillance and privacy protection.

The most recent report published in 2006 is probably the most comprehensive single volume report published in the human rights field. The report runs to almost 1,200 pages and includes about 6,000 footnotes. More than 200 experts from around the world have provided materials and commentary. The participants range from law students studying privacy to high-level officials charged with safeguarding constitutional freedoms in their countries. Academics, human rights advocates, journalists and researchers provided reports, insight, documents and advice.

This year Privacy International took the decision to use the report as the basis for a ranking assessment of the state of privacy in all EU countries together with eleven benchmark countries. This project was first considered in 1998 but was postponed pending availability of adequate data. We now have the full spectrum of information at our disposal and we hope to publish the rankings on an annual basis."

The e-health perspective in this report centres on the impact the findings might have on the possibility of implementation of electronic health information sharing. With our Australian focus the specific notes provided on Australia are of interest. The highlight findings were:


The Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction to incorporate a bill of rights that includes a right of "privacy and reputation.

New amended legislation has eliminated the warrant requirement for accessing stored communications (email, SMS, and voice mail), allowing non-law enforcement government agencies to access this information without a court order.

The government is considering launching biometric RFID passports at the end of 2005.
A new law allowed the motor vehicle and driver licensing agency to issue photo ID cards to non-drivers and retain personal information about them. A privacy group campaigned against the law, likening it to a State-based universal ID card.

National census administrators proposed to alter the nature of the national census to make it the most extensive data collection tool on any person. An immediate outcry from civil liberties groups caused the proposal to be dropped.”

Also disappointing is the Australia rated only 2.4 out of 5 on its efforts to protect personal privacy and manage unwarranted or intrusive surveillance. This score has us in the category described as having “Systemic failure to uphold safeguards” for privacy.

Areas where Australia was clearly deficient included:

1. Constitutional protection

2. Privacy Enforcement

3. Data-sharing

4. Visual surveillance

5. Communications interception

6. Law enforcement access

7. Travel, finances, Trans-border Data Transmission (especially bad)

8. Leadership

The entire report is worth accessing and a detailed review. In the downloadable .pdf files there is a very full report on all aspects of the Australian situation. The current state of our privacy approaches suggests we will face major barriers in making individuals comfortable with electronic health information management without very major reform.


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