Stephen Glover writes in the Daily Mail, advocating an explicit opt-in for databases of personal information, including the Summary Care Record:
I shouldn’t have to take the time and trouble to visit a website or fill in a form to ensure that my personal information is not put on a database. The NHS should write to me laying out the pros and cons honestly (which it certainly doesn’t) and requesting my consent before going ahead.
In the Sixties, students protested about the files which universities then kept on them. These were largely academic, and by their nature could only be read by a few people in authority who had a proper reason for doing so.
Yet the students went mad – going on strike, staging sit-ins and so forth. Forty years later, far more voluminous and deeply private information about us is stored online which can potentially be read by a million unsympathetic eyes, and yet few of us seem remotely upset.
The other day, I decided to check my credit score online on Experian, one of the two biggest credit report agencies. It was an amazing experience.
Though I was unaware of ever having given my permission, every existing mortgage, loan or credit card was recorded, as well as some which had lapsed. Alarmingly, I needed very little information to consult these records and could have been someone else posing as me.
Some of the information was incorrect. The amount of ‘available credit’ was put at a ludicrously precise figure whereas, if credit cards and bank accounts are included, it happens to be several times this amount.
Experian invites us to correct errors and, if we do, what assurance do we have that mistakes will not be made again? Absolutely none.
In a sensible world, Experian would have to apologise for posting incorrect information about us – it could put off prospective lenders – yet in the internet world we are expected to go to the trouble of making a correction after the damage might have been done. And, of course, we have to pay Experian for the privilege of doing so.