Inevitability of gradualism

July 14th, 2006

From the guardian pipes:

NHS database ‘will damage privacy’

Doctors have criticised the massive new health service IT system, claiming the project will harm patient confidentiality.

They said there were serious issues of security once 50 million patient records are stored on one database.

The barbed comments from doctors are the latest set back for the 12.4 billion IT scheme, which has been shrouded in controversy.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, several frontline medics questioned the wisdom of putting the medical records of the UK population on to one central computer.

Consultant Michael Foley said suggested that the huge sums of money invested in the database would be better spent improving patient care.

Passwords to existing patient records were sometimes shared and computer screens left on in open view, he said.

“Insufficient attention is paid to confidentiality and security, even though staff can be disciplined for breaching rules on electronic data protection,” he said.

“When the medical history of the whole population becomes available on a central computer the potential for loss of confidentiality is obvious.”

Mr Foley, a consultant anaesthetist at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, said: “Workers in hospitals or general practice surgeries might seek inappropriate access to medical records because of curiosity or malice, commercial gain, or simple error.

“If screens are left on in open areas or passwords compromised, tracing of access for disciplinary purposes would be difficult. If challenged after a breach of security one could argue that data were requested accidentally. I occasionally enter a wrong number into the radiology viewing system and see unwanted images. Such errors are inevitable.”

The concerns will give succour to critics of the Government’s National Identity Register, which was recently lambasted in internal emails by senior Home Office officials. An Home Office insider who wished not to be named said “these are exactly the same concerns which we will be unable to address with the new Identity Card system, and unfortunately will make implementation of the system more difficult in the face of increased public concerns about the ability of Government databases to securely store private information about individuals”. A spokesman from No2ID added that “this is only the tip of the iceberg the NIR will not only store health records but provide a complete audit of an individual’s life, it is inconceivable that the Government still wishes to pursue this path in light of all the recent developments”.

Naturally the guardian just reprinted a Press Association article and I had to put the last paragraph in to show the sort of simple additions that need to be done to articles in order to inform people, rather than relate isolated facts

I imagine the printed version will include such detail!!!

Part two (Salami fascism):

From the guardian’s film section;

Among those interviewed for Sabina Guzzanti’s “satirical documentary” Viva Zapatero! is Furio Colombo, a former editor of the Italian leftwing daily L’Unita. He recalls how his family kept bound editions of the newspaper from previous years. As a boy, he says, he used to leaf through the volumes from the years that saw the rise of fascism. “I remember I used to wonder why people didn’t see,” he tells Guzzanti, “because at first there were so many who later became anti-fascists, and even joined the Resistance, who took part or said weak-kneed things like ‘Despite everything, Italy’s still a democracy.'”

But, looking through the yellowing pages, he gradually realised how Mussolini had established his dictatorship almost by stealth. “The second volume was more fascist than the first, the third was more fascist than the second, and the 10th was infinitely more fascist than at the beginning, so that by the end of a year of bound volumes, there was fascism.”

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