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Advocates: Data Sharing Plan Needs Strong Safeguards

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—UK

December 12, 2011

The Guardian reports that a Department of Health (DH) plan would see the NHS Information Centre and Connecting for Health (CfH) providing patient data to private research firms, causing concern for some privacy advocates. While CfH claims only anonymized data would be shared, in some cases--with permission from the secretary of state for health--data would be shared in an identifiable format, or "pseudonymized." Privacy advocates say that more details are needed about the distinction between the two formats. "The safeguards in place need to be robust and clearly communicated," says Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch. "The long-term risk to privacy of patients' identities and their health details being connected cannot be quantified, so these plans should be implemented with absolute care."
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