In a short space of time your medical records could be winging their way to a loyalty card network, your life insurance company or anyone else willing to pay the asking price under the Government’s Care.data scheme.
To be honest, this is not, exactly, how the Government is selling their Care.data scheme initiative to the electorate. They say, the data, which will comprise all of your healthcare records, will be anonymised. In letters, going out shortly, people will be urged not to opt out of the scheme, ‘for the greater good’: the data will be invaluable to healthcare researchers, who will be able to utilise it in their battle to find cures for cancer and other life threatening diseases.
However, is the Government being entirely honest? IT and ‘big data’ specialists will tell you that, these days, there is no such thing as anonymised data.
By correlating multiple known data sets against an anonymised data set it is possible to discover exactly who the majority of those people, in so-called anonymised data sets, really are.
It is not just high street and online retailers that might be interested in this data; health and life insurance companies, in particular, would be able to discriminate on the basis of information they could glean.
Information, once freed, cannot be made confidential again.
Big data techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated, even if the data can be adequately anonymised in terms of today’s technology how can the Government give assurances that this will still be the case in five or ten years’ time?
Like virtually every current, ‘LibLabCon’, political issue, people are not being properly informed and the subject has not been openly and honestly debated.
Most ominous of all, ‘IT’ and ‘Government’ are not a good combination.