Ahead of today’s Scottish Parliament debate (Wed 4 Mar) on plans to open up the NHS Central Register to other public bodies, the Scottish Green MSPs are warning that data security, privacy and civil liberties are at serious risk.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie raised concerns about the proposal with Deputy First Minister John Swinney last month, and this week arranged a meeting between the DFM and campaigners from the Open Rights Group, at which alternative approaches were set out.
Scottish Greens have longstanding concerns about the idea of a centralised ID database. 10 years ago Patrick Harvie led a debate at Holyrood against the UK Government’s plans for ID cards.
This week the Information Commissioner’s Office said that the proposals to open up the NHS database risk breaching data protection laws and privacy standards.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
“There is a growing range of voices warning against the Scottish Government’s proposals. Allowing wider public sector access to data from the NHS central register sounds like an ID database in all but name.
“It’s important we examine these proposals in public, and the Information Commissioner’s comments have brought welcome additional scrutiny. I would urge John Swinney to listen to the serious arguments against this proposal, and change direction. There are better ways of achieving his policy objectives without going down a route abandoned by the UK Government years ago.”
The Green amendment submitted but not selected for debate:
“and considers that full privacy impact assessments must be carried out on the existing use of the Central Register and Entitlement Cards systems as well as on any proposals for a change in their use.”
ID cards in any guise must be opposed (Patrick Harvie):
Patrick Harvie questions John Swinney, 19 Feb 2015:
Greens lead debate against ID cards, 2005: