Last week the Government announced it will amend the 2012 legislation, introduced by the then Labor Government, to ensure that if users wish to cancel their record they will be able to do so permanently, with their record deleted from the system forever.
These amendments come following concerns raised by several stakeholders since the announcement of the opt-out period, including the Australian Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners who both requested the Government extend the opt-out period to give Australians more time to consider their options.
Uncertainty around the security and privacy of Australians’ having their health data being stored on a central government system had dogged the Government, as more than 20,000 Australians opted-out of the system in the first day.
The Government has attempted to reassure the public their data would be secure using the My Health Record, citing the success of the 6 year pilot program, which the Government says remained secure. The Health Minister also confirmed that the amendments to the legislation will ensure no records can be released to police or Government agencies, for any purpose, without a court order.
The Government has said its amendments will help strengthen the legislation to match the existing Australian Digital Health Agency policy. However, the Opposition remains unconvinced.
Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King MP, says the Opposition remains deeply concerned about the way the Government has handled the My Health Record opt-out period, claiming it has severely undermined the public trust in the reform.
Ms King believes that while the Government has agreed to a number of changes demanded by the Opposition and doctors’ groups, including an extension of the opt-out period and a new public information campaign, more needs to be done.
The Opposition will seek crossbench support to refer the rollout to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee, which could also inquire into the census failure and the sale of Medicare numbers on the darkweb.
Ms King said the inquiry will examine the Government’s decision to shift from an opt-in system to an out-out system and whether it adequately prepared for this fundamental change from Labor’s system.
“[The inquiry] will examine a range of privacy and security concerns, including the adequacy of the system’s log-in procedures and default settings. It will also consider issues raised in the public domain around domestic violence and workers’ compensation,” Ms King said.
“Labor remains of the view the Government should suspend the My Health Record rollout until this mess can be cleaned up.”
It is expected that the committee will be asked to report back on its findings before the end of the opt-out period in mid-November.