According to today’s Guardian, this information will be made available to the police and security services on a ‘need to know basis’. That’s simple. They seem to need to know everything there is to know about you at any given moment. ‘Details of mental illnesses, abortions, pregnancy, HIV status, drug-taking, or alcoholism may also be included, and there are no laws to prevent DNA profiles being added’, warned The Guardian.
I am aware that we, as a culture, suffer from an obsessive desire to know obscure personal details about perfect strangers. I, for example, am incandescent with rage if I open a new novel and the writer has omitted to include a biography. I must see the words ‘Lucrezia was born in Walton-on-the-Naze in 1973 and lives in Highgate with her husband Tim, twins Auberon and Delia and cat Debussy. She writes full time’, on the inside cover of a book. I may well chuck the novel aside if the author can’t be bothered to lay a tiny morsel of herself before me. I do not, however wish to know if Lucrezia has epilepsy or suffered from post natal depression when the twins were born. This information could be very easy to obtain in future. It could show up in a bin bag outside the hospital where she had her D&C or the chemist that dispensed her Temazapam. I may even be able to bid for it on ebay which I would obviously do if I had a mind to blackmail her or sell her out to News of the World.
The fact that everyone, including doctors as well as patients is against it, as usual, makes the Government even more determined to push it through. In fact they’ve already engaged a PR firm to work up publicity proposals to persuade people not to object to their details being passed on. The threat of withholding treatment might not be enough to persuade those of us whose civic-mindedness does not stretch to giving up all of our rights to privacy thank you very much.
You could have drawn this story from Scripts Central, in fact I think they might have already covered it on Spooks. Any all encompassing system with this level of sensitive information in the hands of an organisation with as poor a record for competency as the NHS is sure be a magnet for abuse. The Guardian reported today,
‘The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, warned this year that private investigators were already raiding government and company databases, because the penalties are so weak. Investigations by his staff and police had uncovered "evidence of a pervasive and widespread 'industry' devoted to the illegal buying and selling of such information".’
Message to Government from ‘Unknown’ of Hackney (tee hee) – People before Government. Feel free to take that quite literally. Please insert a contra-flow on the information super highway. Stop collecting information and start dispersing some like what you intend to do about curing the sick people for example or do you just plan to eliminate them to save money?
Anyone who has a ‘medical history’ should write to the Secretary of State for Health to protest. There’s a pro forma in The Guardian which you can cut out and use. My advice? Don’t go to the doctor and if you do, just sit there and let them guess what’s wrong with you. They’ve had six years of training, they ought to be able to work it out without knowing where you live, your age or whether or not you’ve had a heart transplant. I raise a glass of medicinal Chardonnay to you and your very good health – long may it remain your little secret!
Picture from www.collectdolls.about.com