By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd
Australians now have until 31 January 2019 to decide whether or not to have a My Health Record. The deadline to opt-out of having a My Health Record has been extended again.
Due to privacy and security concerns raised by various stakeholders and medical professionals, the Australian Government has proposed two sets of legislative changes to the My Health Record legislation to strengthen existing privacy protections set out in the legislation and established a Senate Committee inquiry to assess whether the My Health Record system is working and how it can be improved. In July this year, we blogged about the privacy and security concerns raised about the My Health Record system.
During the Senate Committee inquiry, it was revealed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) that since the My Health Record system commenced in July 2012, the OAIC has received 88 My Health Records mandatory data breach notifications and 11 mandatory data breach notifications. The data breaches generally involved incorrect information being uploaded to a My Health record.
It is evident to us that the My Health Record system has significant privacy and security issues that should be properly considered before the opt-out period ends. These issues are highlighted in the Senate Committee inquiry final report. In addition, the amending legislation designed to strengthen the privacy protections of the My Health Record system is still being debated in the Senate.
Extending the time for people to decide whether or not to opt-out of a My Health Record is a sensible approach. This gives individuals more time to properly understand the implications of having a My Health Record and for important privacy issues to be considered by the Australian Government.
However if ongoing concerns remain about the privacy and security protections of the My Health Record System by 31 January 2019, if in doubt, better to opt out!