The NHS “data spine” explained, and a warning…

Big Brother databases? Always scary. Here, Wendy Grossman at
Newswireless.net cosiders a Spineless future.

One thing you should not rely on is that the data will be unidentifiable, even if the NHS confirms that it will be “anonymized”. Years ago, Latanya Sweeney showed just how unreliable this is by analysing supposedly anonymized data from the health system in the state of Massachusetts by matching it against publicly available motor vehicle rolls. With only a few database fields she was able to identify almost all of the individuals in the medical data.

But, says Wendy:

Opting out has turned out not to be so simple, despite the fact that according to Ross Anderson, who has been working on medical privacy for well over a decade, most GPs are unhappy about the forced uploading of patient data to a centralised database. That being the case, as Phil Booth notes in the No2ID forum on the topic, if you want to opt out treat your GP as your ally unless he proves otherwise.

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