Your health records- open to all in new labour data disaster

NO2ID and Health Direct has been warning since 2006/7 about the stated intentions of the labour government “to overcome current barriers to information sharing within the public sector”.

Now the Ministry of Justice has launched an extraordinary coup. It is about to convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite, a means for any government department to obtain and use any information however it likes- including your supposedly confidential medical records- if you were stupid enough not to protest at your records being digitised.

Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill is one clause (cl.152) amending the Data Protection Act. It would allow ministers to make ‘Information Sharing Orders’, that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

The Database State is now a direct threat not a theory.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register. But the powers apply to any information, not just official information.

They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies – your medical records are firmly in their sights – and even with foreign governments.

ACT NOW!

We urge you to write to your MP straight away via http://www.WriteToThem.com – don’t wait. The Bill is being rushed through Parliament, even as we write. It contains a number of controversial provisions, but to the casual reader appears mainly to be about reforming inquests and sentencing.

As it progresses, NO2ID will be publishing more information but it is crucial that every MP realises how dangerous the information sharing clauses in the Coroners and Justice Bill really are. This will only happen if YOU tell them.

*In your own words*, please ask your MP to read Part 8 (clauses 151 – 154) of the Coroners and Justice Bill, and to oppose the massive enabling powers in the “Information sharing” clause. The Bill is due its Second Reading in the Commons on 26th January 2009.

Request them to demand the clause be given proper Parliamentary scrutiny. This is something that will affect every single one of their constituents, unlike the rest of the Bill. There is a grave danger that the labour government will set a timetable that will cut off debate before these proposals – which are at the end of the Bill – are discussed.

With support for the ID scheme crumbling, even in the Home Office’s own skewed polls – the last of which showed a 5% drop- trust in the government’s handling of our personal information is at an all-time low.

A YouGov poll in the Sunday Times on 18th January shows that the public opposes these new powers by a factor of 3 to 1 *against*. 65% of people asked said they give labour government “too much power”, only 19% thought not. The government can’t pretend a popular mandate for what it is doing. And it is a mechanism designed to by-pass parliament in future. It is being done only for the convenience of the bureaucrats.

Please write NOW – http://www.WriteToThem.com – it won’t take long, and we are going to ask you again. But if you don’t start now, our battle is going to be much harder.

Please ALSO pass on or forward this part of the newsletter to friends, family and colleagues who might share your concerns. The more people it reaches, the more we hope will act.

We really can’t afford not to win.

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