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So, the UK government is at it again. But, this is fairly important, particularly for those that care about the privacy of their medical data anyway, so, if you’re one of those people, consider this a public service announcement.

As of September 1, the UK will be doing a ‘GP data upload’, wherein your entire medical history, data and records will be ‘shared’ for ‘research and planning.’

This scheme (a scheme sounds about right) was originally pegged to happen on the 1st July, but was pushed back to the new date to, ‘give the NHS more time to address concerns about patients’ privacy being breached.’ And rightly so.

Basically, what the government is proposing/steamrollering ahead with, is every interaction you’ve ever had with your GP, from quite literally when you were born, will be indirectly sold to private companies. Given the circumstances over the last 18 months, I’d kind of understand an exclusively Covid related data grab, but your entire back catalogue?

Unfortunately, this data harvest won’t be anonymous either, so it’ll be easily identifiable as yours. And for many, this data will no doubt contain intimate medical information they would rather others outside their GP surgery weren’t privy to.

Now, I’m not going to say Covid was some conspiracy for a data grab, it wasn’t, but it has presented an opportunity.

The government thought it would be far easier to just automatically opt you in for this unwarranted data grab, unless you personally opt out.

But, you won’t hear much about this on any of the mainstream news channels. The government also thought it’d be best not to advertise this, but also expect you to personally opt out if you don’t like it.

Apparently, under the original plans for a data grab on July 1, we had been given until the 23 June to exercise our right not to have details of our NHS care shared. But critics warned that the ‘secretive’ way the scheme was first acknowledged by both NHS Digital and (then) Health Secretary Matt Handle-my-C*ck, would have meant many would have been unaware of the programme and therefore could not refuse to be included.

So, now we have this helpful extension on the matter, if you would prefer random companies didn’t have your complete medical history, adorned with your name and various other details, you can opt out via: https://your-data-matters.service.nhs.uk/landingpage – it takes about two minutes, and you will then receive a text (or some form of communication) confirming you’ve opted out.

And if you don’t care, and believe they need your information from birth for “research and planning” (planning for what?) then good for you, but remember, this is your data, and therefore, your choice. Don’t let the government make it for you.

This editorial originally appeared in the Data Centre Review Newsletter July 16, 2021. To ensure you receive these editorials direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

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