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Merger Raises Data Linkage Worries

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—AUSTRALIA

March 25, 2011

Opponents to a merger between Medicare and Centrelink say privacy is at risk, The Australian reports. Australian Privacy Foundation health spokeswoman Juanita Fernando said the merger, part of a bill being considered by the Senate Community Affairs Committee, is "dreadful" and will allow for linkages of data. Further, the Department of Human Services would be empowered to seize computer equipment containing large amounts of patient records. "One's personal information...is available to an additional 27,000 Centrelink employees and agencies and access points employing any number of staff," Fernando said. Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said if the bill is passed, Medicare is expected to update protocols with appropriate protections for personal information.
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