Are our medicals records safe in a system like My Health Record? Not everyone thinks so. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle
Are our medicals records safe in a system like My Health Record? Not everyone thinks so. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle

My Health Record is the beginning of the end

One definition of power is the ability to exploit the naivety and laziness, stupidity even, of people.

Where we once feared Big Brother-style surveillance, today we happily tote around devices that track our every move even if some of us don't want to believe it.

Yet, we also know none of the data it contains is safe - or just how much of your life it is tracking.

As a colleague brandishing his phone said to me this week: "This thing knows everything about me, including telling me where I parked my car, even though I know where I parked my car!"

Which may explain some of the furore surrounding the government's My Health Record scheme which forced federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to answer to its security in a testy TV interview yesterday.

Mr Hunt told viewers about a system that presumes consent: "This is safer than the record at the general practice. It's absolutely safer than the record which might be at the pharmacy. Above all else though, it means for the first time you can access your own record. And in the case of an emergency, they can potentially save your life."

People can now opt to have a microchip inserted into the wrist to open doors and start vehicles rather than carry keys and passes. Picture: David Caird
People can now opt to have a microchip inserted into the wrist to open doors and start vehicles rather than carry keys and passes. Picture: David Caird

I've never had any issue gaining access to my own health record when sat in front of my GP. Small point I guess. But if we ever needed proof the nanny state was becoming a force that goes beyond stopping children climbing trees or having any kind of fun, this is it.

Particularly given the huge number of well-publicised data hacks, and the meltdown of the government's online census a few short years ago. Assurances that our data is safe and will not be misused sits uneasily with media reports that even local councils have been gaining access to our metadata to chase down fines.

But do we need to be reminded that medical records are more valuable that credit card information because they are packed with contemporaneous and intimately accurate detail about you and your family? Apparently we do.

I've heard from mums who almost lost their minds in laptop refresh hell because they were unable to interface with the machine during this week's opt-out meltdown. They have legitimate concerns about storing their sensitive health information in centralised databases.

Meanwhile, if that's not scary enough, in the UK where British companies are flirting with tech companies about microchipping their staff.

A chip the size of a grain of rice implanted in your hand between the forefinger and thumb.

Open your front door, start your car or get into your office all with a wave plus it can store medical data. Coming your way soon.

We are now relying on tech to be our memory and decision maker more than ever. Picture: supplied
We are now relying on tech to be our memory and decision maker more than ever. Picture: supplied

Sign up to this, chip yourself with that and eyes down to screens at all times lest you miss some fresh but ultimately useless information while real life evaporates around you.

And chipping ourselves like a domestic pet, pioneered in Sweden five years ago, would ultimately allow business to use more tech to control and micromanage us. One firm, Biohax, says already 4000 people have been microchipped instead of using a smart phone.

I believe in digital tech and its potential but it's only human to be concerned about who can buy your data and what they will do with it. Are we dogs or humans?

I'll bet if microchips become a thing, there will surely be a few parents lining up too. After all, given this newspaper reported recently that distrustful parents were hiring private eyes to spy on their kids, how long is it before chipping your child like the family terrier becomes all in vogue.

But with chipping, people are queuing up to give away their freedom. You can be tracked, you can be controlled.

It's convenience but at what cost? No problem if you forget your wallet or a credit card disappears down the back of a sofa but people give up their privacy so easily.

Barcodes, tattooed on our babies' wrists or feet when they are born? On us?

What about liberty and freedom?

Either we don't realise or we don't care.

 

Because of its inability to address privacy and security concerns, wouldn't My Health Record have worked better as an "opt-in" program?

Ah, but where's the profit in that?

Our health has always been our business and we have the ability to share the details with whom we see fit. Why does that need to change?

When my friend started seeing her new doctor they asked her to sign a form giving her permission to share her records/information with the allied health professionals she may see from time to time.

If she sees the exercise physiologist, there's no need to explain the ins and outs of her surgery. Her records stay in the practice and are not shared with anyone outside.

Why have people become so lazy they can't even advocate for themselves or be proactive about their health?

We are reaping what we have sowed - doing everything for our children that they need someone else to manage their lives, through government-run health records or microchips to track their every move.

I fear, however, that there is so much apathy out there that people won't be bothered to say no.

Who wants to feel angry and helpless and not in control of their information? Wave that chip in your hand to let us know.



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