Monthly Archives: March 2013


James Kirkup writes in the Daily Telegrph: Confidential medical information could be shared among doctors, researchers and managers under plans to “override” patients’ objections, it can be revealed. A secret NHS document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, has raised fears that patient confidentiality will be watered down. The draft code of practice for patients’ information was circulated among NHS managers earlier this month. It tells staff that they can sometimes ignore patients’ wishes over the distribution of “identifiable” records and refers to “the wide range of purposes that information is used for outside of direct care”. The document has led to warnings that sensitive medical and personal details could be distributed widely and even passed to pharmaceutical firms, regardless of patients’ wishes. Phil Booth, of medConfidential, a campaign group, said the draft code could usher in “the most radical downgrading of medical confidentiality the NHS has ever seen.” Ross Anderson […]

Secret NHS plan to share personal records


Paul Bernal, writing in his blog, comments on Government proposals for ‘food stamps’, noting their similarity to parts of the Home Office’s discredited ID card scheme: The latest proposal for ‘food stamps’ has aroused a good deal of anger. It’s a policy that is divisive, depressing and hideous in many ways – Suzanne Moore’s article in the Guardian is one of the many excellent pieces written about it. She hits at the heart of the problem: ‘Repeat after me: austerity removes autonomy’. That’s particularly true in this case, and in more ways than even Suzanne Moore brings in. This new programme has even more possibilities to remove autonomy than previous attempts at controlling what ‘the poor’ can do with their money – because it takes food stamps into the digital age… The idea, as I understand it, is that people will be issued with food ‘cards’, rather than old fashioned […]

Food stamps and the database state…


Ian Dunt writes at Politics.co.uk: Hidden in the murky depths of David Cameron’s immigration speech were some nasty ideas affecting civil liberties and privacy. The prime minister, who not so long ago was deploying his best poetic rhetoric against Labour’s ID cards scheme, is planning on bringing in what appears to be a new biometric identity system. He only mentioned identity cards for migrants as an aside, but the implications are staggering. “We are already rolling out a new single secure form of identification – the biometric residence permit – for those from outside the EEA to make it easier to identify illegal migrants in the first place,” he said. This is curious. There is already a biometric ID programme for some non-EEA nationals, depending on the risk category the UK Border Agency puts their country in. What does he mean? Is he expanding it to include all non-EEA nationals, […]

Cameron’s immigration speech raises serious civil liberties questions



SA Mathieson has published a book about the defeat of the ID card scheme, with a series of three extracts appearing on the IT Security Pro web site. He writes: Suppliers of information security technology do a robust job of promoting their products, including by highlighting news stories that demonstrate an apparent need, with a suitable quote from a company executive arguing that this shows why the organisation affected needs to spend more on information security. 20 November 2007, when Mr Darling told the House of Commons that HM Revenue and Customs had lost two discs containing unencrypted data on 25m children and parents registered for child benefit, was therefore a day of high activity for the public relations firms who organise such releases. Octopus Communications, acting for security software supplier McAfee, was a bit quick off the mark; it based its press release on early leaks and sent it […]

How two lost discs crippled the case for ID cards


Kathleen Hall writes in Computer Weekly: The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Universal Credit programme is unlikely to use identity assurance (IDA) services, with responsibility for the identity framework having now moved to the Government Procurement Service. The Universal Credit (UC) programme was designed to be the flagship project for the use of IDA services – the system for enabling citizens to authenticate themselves online, and necessary for the use of transactional, digital-by-default services. However, this part of the programme appears to have been put on ice, with sources having told Computer Weekly the DWP is not currently buying any IDA services from the eight identity assurance providers on the £25m IDA framework.

IDA services put on ice for Universal Credit delivery


Rob Evans and Paul Lewis write in The Guardian: Three appeal court judges have ruled that police violated the human rights of an 88-year-old peaceful campaigner when they secretly labelled him a “domestic extremist” and recorded his political activities. John Catt, who has no criminal record, was shocked when he discovered police had clandestinely kept a detailed note of his presence on more than 55 demonstrations over a four-year period. On Thursday, he won his legal action to have the records deleted from a secret database of so-called domestic extremists. Details of the surveillance were revealed by the Guardian in 2010.

Protester wins surveillance database fight



On 25th February Prof Ross Anderson gave a talk on Health record privacy in Scotland; it includes a useful history and summary of medical privacy in England too. His slides (pptx format) and talk (MP3 audio) are available online. In the talk he reminds us that English GPs will be obliged to upload informtion about all their pateients to the NHS’s centralised systems from 1st April 2013. If you’re interested in these issues, save April 24th in your diary; there will be a big medical privacy event in London organised by a number of NGOs.

Health record privacy in Scotland


Daniel Martin writes in the Daily Mail: Britons could have to carry an ‘entitlement card’ to access free NHS care as part of a crackdown on health tourists, it emerged yesterday. David Cameron is considering plans to restrict free healthcare for immigrants to those who have lived here for more than a year, amid fears the cash-strapped NHS has become the ‘Global Health Service’. Reforms under discussion could mean immigrants having to wait six months or even a year before being granted habitual residency and therefore hospital care. But MPs say the scheme can only work if those entitled to free care can prove it. This would involve them presenting a card at the point of treatment. However, the idea could spark civil liberty concerns akin to the opposition to Labour’s plans to impose an identity card. Sarah Coles, writing on the AOL web site, reminds us that Labour originally […]

British citizens could be forced to carry ID cards to ...