My Health Record Redraft: The Changes That Affect You

My Health Record Redraft: The Changes That Affect You
Image: Australian Government

Amid mounting pressure from privacy activists and a public concerned by how their medical data will be used, Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced a number of changes to be made to the My Health Record rollout, from what happens when you cancel a record to restrictions around who can access the data.

The changes were announced last night at a meeting with doctors from the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, intended to discuss concerns about the new system and figure out a better system.

How To Opt-Out Of The Government's My Health Record

July 16 marks the start of the three-month period in which Australians can opt-out of the government's My Health Record. Planned as an "online summary of your health information" that "can be accessed at any time by you and your healthcare providers", there are no guarantees about how your data will be used by said providers. Here's what you need to know about MHR and how to opt-out if privacy is your main concern.

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While calls to make the comprehensive online health record opt-in rather than opt-out don’t seem to have been noted, the two changes that will definitely happen are a big step for the privacy of those with a My Health Record and even for those without.

For starters, the restrictions around who can access your health record have been strengthened when it comes to non-medical authorities. If police or government agencies wish to access a record they must have a court order, which is a big improvement for those concerned about their privacy. The new legislation will be strengthened to match existing Australian Digital Health Agency’s privacy policy.

“The Digital Health Agency’s policy is clear and categorical,” a release from Greg Hunt says. “No documents have been released in more than six years and no documents will be released without a court order.”

The second change regards people who already have a My Health Record and want to cancel. Previously, cancelled records would still be kept on file for 30 years after your death. Now, you’ll be able to have your record deleted fully from the system.

The changes won’t be put into place straight away, but Hunt has said they will be implemented as soon as possible. The Government has also indicated it’s likely the opt-out period will be extended as more work is put into educating the public about the system and how it works.

My Health Record: The Case For Opting In

The My Health Record opt-out period begins this week, and you have until October 15 to pull your records out of the scheme. But should you? Here are some compelling reasons to keep your records where they are.

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  • My medical clinic has all of my medical history on its server. It’s freely accessible by every doctor in the clinic. I reckon a 14 year old beginner hacker could hack into that PC based network in a few minutes and sell off the medical history of a few thousand people. Universal access to our medical history is almost certain. We need a different way to protect it.

  • The second change regards people who already have a My Health Record and want to cancel. Previously, cancelled records would still be kept on file for 30 years after your death. Now, you’ll be able to have your record deleted fully from the system.
    That’s a good change, too late for me though, it just showed me how lazy they were with privacy and legal reasons, they are a dedicated Records Keeping agency, they had one job to do right… and instead of applying appropriate retention and disposal guidelines with NAP since the records were essentially “copies”, they legislated in their own policy they had to keep it all for the maximum retention period for the rarest of records (medical records pertaining to criminal activity) even thought that is the responsibility of the health care provider to keep all records, not the data collection agency.

  • The truly sad part is they’ve only done this because people got annoyed. It’s disgraceful. Imagine how much they’d f%^&k everyone over if they could.

    I’m disturbed by how little anyone seems to realise this. Or by how little anyone really cares. It seems to take so much effort to get actual public support to protect rights. The Liberals are desperately trying to trash unions, and everyone is too stupid to look at the well-documented past about how bad working conditions were before that (whilst acknowledging that unions have had their own problems as well). We deserve every crappy thing corrupt politicians do to us.

    • Mandatory data retention ‘to fight terrorists and pedos’ received bipartisan support with the greens the only minor voice of dissent, uncosted, with no answer to major questions about who was going to pay for it, and at the time it was increased in scope to allow not just AFP investigations, but any ‘serious crime’, with warrantless access for all law enforcement agencies.

      Less than a year later, FOI requests revealed a list of SIXTY government agencies not involved in law enforcement who requested they be re-classificed as such for the ability to access this data WITHOUT A FUCKING WARRANT. This list included groups like local city councils.

      Yeah. It’s all about federal crimes, right? Slippery slope doesn’t exist, right? We can trust the government not to quietly expand the scope of what they record and what they use it for, right? At least journalists and whistleblowing are protected from– oh, it’s that’s a crime now, and the metadata can automatically be used without warrant by law enforcement agencies?

      Fuck’s sake. These pricks can not be trusted, but here we are again.

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