UK News Articles

Articles from the foreign press discussing identity cards – either the UK scheme or another one.

Laura Donnelly writes in the Daily Telegraph: On Thursday the board of HSCIC announced that it will conduct an immediate audit of all data ever disclosed by the central NHS authorities. In April it will disclose details of the data released by HSCIC. Details of data released by its predecessor organisation are expected to be published the following month. The report will set out what was released and why, and in future, records of such decisions will be released quarterly. Officials said they were taking the steps in order to “improve the transparency of its decision-making and build public trust in its actions.” They said the measures were being introduced following the concerns raised by MPs last week The audit will be led by Sir Nick Partridge, a Non-Executive Director on the HSCIC Board and former Chief Executive of the Terence Higgins Trust.

Review to probe sale of NHS medical data

Jon Hoeksma writes in EHI magazine: Health leaders gathered in Manchester for the Healthcare Innovation Expo look set to have their future-gazing overshadowed by the disarray over, after a truly disastrous week for the open data initiative. A fortnight ago, NHS England was forced to announce a six-month delay to the project to link the Hospital Episode Statistics to other databases and make the information available to researchers and others, after a public outcry about the lack of consultation on the plans. But the commissioning board had begun a fight back in defense of the programme, with a major communications campaign promised in an otherwise fraught session at the Commons’ health select committee, and tough new legislation unveiled by health secretary Jeremy Hunt. Despite this, by the end of the week, and its chief architect and champion Tim Kelsey, NHS England’s director of patients and information, was being […]

A bad week in the bunker for

Ben Goldacre writes in The Guardian: I am embarrassed. Last week I wrote in support of the government’s plans to collect and share the medical records of all patients in the NHS, albeit with massive caveats. The research opportunities are huge, but we already knew that the implementation was chaotic, with poor public information, partly because the checks and balances on who gets access to data – and how – have not yet been devised or implemented. When you’re proposing to share our most private medical records, vague promises and an imaginary regulatory framework are not reassuring. Now it’s worse. On Monday, the Health and Social Care Information Centre admitted giving the insurance industry the coded hospital records of millions of patients, pseudonymised, but re-identifiable by anyone with malicious intent, as I explained last week. These were crunched by actuaries into tables showing the likelihood of death depending on various […] is in chaos. It breaks my heart

Conrad Quilty-Harper writes for the Daily Mirror: The launch of a controversial database which would centralise access to GP surgeries healthcare records has been delayed from April until Autumn. Why? Let’s start at the beginning, this stuff is quite complicated. What is The NHS wants to share data collected at GP surgeries about individual patients so researchers can find ways to improve healthcare and generally make the NHS more efficient. Since 1989, researchers have been able to request hospital episode statistics including billions of records from hospital visits. will open up the data behind about 300 million patient consultations every year at GP surgeries. The controversial bit is that this involves using identifiable information — like people’s date of birth, full postcode, NHS number or gender — to connect the data together. The NHS says the data is protected, but people are still worried about the implications for […]

Why should you care about

Nick Triggle writes for the BBC: There comes a point when the weight of criticism becomes so much that the dam bursts. For NHS England – and its project – that point was reached on Tuesday. When you have a group of bodies as disparate as the British Medical Association, privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch and the Association of Medical Research Charities united in their condemnation, you know you have a problem. The organisation has defused the problem for now by agreeing to delay the data-sharing project by six months. But how did it get to this point? After all, the concept of the giant database has the backing of almost the entire medical community, many charities and some of the most influential patient groups. How did it go so wrong?

Charlie Cooper writes for the Independent: Controversial plans to trawl patient records from every GP surgery in England have been put on hold, amid concerns from doctors and ministers that the public have not been properly informed about how their private data will be used. The programme, which was scheduled to begin collecting the confidential information from GPs in April, will now be delayed until the autumn, NHS England has announced. The pause will allow the NHS more time to inform people about “ the benefits of using the information, what safeguards are in place, and how people can opt out if they choose to,” officials said. The Department of Health has grown increasingly concerned in recent weeks that NHS England has not sufficiently reassured the public – nor the medical profession – about how the programme would benefit patients. Critics have also warned that the private data, […]

Victory for privacy as NHS database is delayed

Nigel Praities writes for Pulse: A substantial number of GPs are so uneasy about NHS England’s plans to share patient data that they intend to opt their own records out of the scheme, reveals a Pulse snapshot survey. The survey of nearly 400 GP respondents conducted this week found the profession split over whether to support the scheme, with 41% saying they intend to opt-out, 43% saying they would not opt-out and 16% undecided. The snapshot survey gives the first indication of GP opinion over the scheme, and comes as leaflets with information about the programme are in the process of being sent to every household in England.

Over 40% of GPs intend to opt themselves out of ...

Lis Evenstad writes for EHI magazine: A leading privacy campaigner has condemned NHS England’s £1m leaflet drop about for not including an ‘opt-out’ form. Phil Booth, co-founder of the medConfidential campaign, told EHI that the leaflet, which is supposed to inform patients about the programme and advise them that they can opt-out, said the failure to include an easy way for them to do this was “ridiculous”. “There’s no opt-out form in the leaflet. This is ridiculous. If you’re going to send out this you have to include an opt-out form,” he said. The leaflet drop is part of a £2m public awareness campaign being run by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre about, which will expand the Hospital Episode Statistics and link them to other healthcare data sets, starting with information extracted from GP practices. An estimated 22m homes will receive a leaflet […] campaign leaflet slammed

A letter to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph: Sir – My son’s school has just asked for a copy of each pupil’s passport. Apparently, as a Tier 4 visa sponsor, it is required to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that every child has the right to be in Britain. This, despite assurances by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, in a letter to concerned organisations earlier this year, that he had “no plans to require schools to conduct nationality checks on their pupils”. Employers, doctors and now teachers: is our nation of shopkeepers being turned into an army of border guards? Richard Williams Brighton, East Sussex

Papers! Papers!

Amy Davidson writes for the New Yorker: Not every suspension-of-service notice for an e-mail company comes with a link to a legal-defense fund. Ladar Levison, the owner and operator of Lavabit, whose clients, reportedly, have included Edward Snowden, made it sound today as though he could use the help. “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit,” Levison wrote in a note posted on his site. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on—the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences […]

The N.S.A. and Its Targets: Lavabit Shuts Down

Ann Cavoukian is the Information & Privacy Commissioner for Ontario, Canada. She writes: Since the recent revelations of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance of the public’s metadata, the term “metadata” has been regularly used in the media, frequently without any explanation of its meaning. Metadata’s reach can be extensive – including information that reveals the time and duration of a communication, the particular devices used, email addresses, or numbers contacted, which kinds of communications services were used, and at what geolocations. And since virtually every device we use has a unique identifying number, our communications and Internet activities may be linked and traced with relative ease – ultimately back to the individuals involved. All this metadata is collected and retained by communications service providers for varying periods of time and, for legitimate business purposes. Key questions arise, however, including who else has access to all this information, and for what purposes? […]

A Primer on Metadata: Separating Fact from Fiction

According to The Newspaper (“A Journal of the Politics of Driving”): The use of Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR, also known as ANPR in the UK) is coming under increasing scrutiny in North America. The American Civil Liberties Union in July began requesting data from law enforcement agencies around the country so the activist group’s lawyers could examine data collection policies. On Thursday, British Columbia, Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner released the results of an official audit that took six months to look at whether use of the devices by the Victoria Police Department violates the law. Commissioner Elizabeth Denham opened her inquiry after receiving a number of requests from concerned members of the public. She focused on determining whether use of cameras to track and store license plate data from all passing vehicles, even when their occupants were not suspected of any crime, was permissible under Canada’s Freedom of […]

Canada: Privacy Commissioner Blasts License Plate Readers

Julian Sanchez writes for Reuters about the scandal that ended the career of CIA Director David Petraeus this week. He concludes: You don’t have to sympathize with Petraeus to wonder whether any prominent national figure who runs afoul of the FBI – or another influential official, for that matter – could survive the kind of humiliating exposure our modern surveillance state makes commonplace. If everyone has a skeleton or two in the closet, information is the power to decide whose careers will survive. We have unwittingly constructed a legal and technological architecture that brings point-and-click simplicity to the politics of personal destruction. The Petraeus affair has, for a moment, exposed that invisible scaffolding – and provided a rare opportunity to revisit outdated laws and reconsider the expanded surveillance powers doled out over the past panicked decade. Congress should seize the opportunity to re-examine and revise these myriad surveillance techniques and […]

Collateral damage of our surveillance state

Ryan Gallagher writes on the Slate web site: How much does it cost to monitor every communication flowing through a country? Last week, the British government published its controversial Communications Data Bill—or “snoopers’ charter,” as it has been widely dubbed—which would force U.K. telecoms firms to store records about activity on social network sites, webmail, internet phone calls (like Skype), and online gaming for up to a year. The legislation, which could involve fitting “black-box” probes within the communications infrastructure to make data available in near real time, has been attacked by civil liberties groups that have drawn comparisons with mass surveillance systems used by authoritarian rulers in places like Belarus, China, and Iran. Many of the technical details about the plan remain unknown at this early stage, but the huge cost of the program itself is highly revealing. The new surveillance infrastructure would cost up to £2.5 billion ($3.9 […]

Why Does the U.K.’s New Internet Surveillance Plan Cost Nearly ...

According to Eurctiv: The European Commission is set to launch a substantial review of rules governing personal documents with the aim of making electronic identities take off across the EU. But the proposal faces likely opposition from civil rights groups and member states where identity cards do not exist. Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv. “A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world,” reads the paper. “This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.” Brussels has long been trying to facilitate the emergence of […]

Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens