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ID theft

All about how it happens and how you can keep it from happening to you.

Brits may have to kiss their medical privacy goodbye

I usually limit my writing here to identity theft risks and privacy right violations that occur in the U.S. But occasionally there are incidents or risks so great, mind-boggling or boneheaded they seem relevant. This is one of the more appalling potential risks.

Two of the UK’s largest and most influential research organizations—Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council—are pressuring the government to allow them access to patients’ complete medical records (including all identifying information) without the patients’ consent.

The organizations’ impetus is that access to the information would provide them with ideally targeted, demographically representative and easily accessed candidates for research and clinical trials.

The researchers’ vision goes something like this:

(ring, ring) Patient: Allo?

Researcher: Allo, Mrs. Smith. I’m from Wellcome Trust, and we’re conducting clinical trials on a drug for people who have a history of genital herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital warts. I have your most private medical information before me now, and it looks like you reported to your physician that you had sex with 147 partners before you married your husband, the vicar. We think you’d be an ideal candidate for our research.

(ring, ring) Patient: Allo?

Researcher: Allo, Mr. Jones. I’m a researcher with the Medical Research Council, and we’re conducting research on people like you who suffer from long-term erectile dysfunction caused by latent homosexuality and the trauma of being buggered by a priest.

Patient: Wait just a minute. My wife’s mother is here. Let me take you off speakerphone.

Published Dec 17 2008, 01:53 PM by IdentityTheft
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