PA Consulting, a management consulting firm, obtained the entire English and Welsh hospital episode statistics database and uploaded it to Google's Bigquery service. The stats filled 27 DVDs and took "a couple of weeks" to transfer to Google's service, which is hosted in non-EU data centres. This is spectacularly illegal. The NHS dataset includes each patient's NHS number, post code, address, date of birth and gender, as well as all their inpatient, outpatient and emergency hospital records. Google's Bigquery service allows for full data-set sharing with one click.
The news of the breach comes after the collapse of a scheme under which the NHS would sell patient records to pharma companies, insurers and others (there was no easy way to opt out of the scheme, until members of the public created the independent Fax Your GP service).
According to researcher and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre, this story is just the beginning: there's an "infinitely worse" story that is coming shortly. Read the rest
Before you get excited about the bones of Richard III being found under a parking lot, consider this — the announcement included no mention of how common the DNA sequences that ostensibly identified the body as Richard really are. Those sequences might match Richard's descendants, but if the sequences are also really common, well, that's not saying much. Read the rest
I've never seen anyone fringe the ring quite like that before. [Jiskefet via Reddit] Read the rest
The Oxford city council has ruled that every taxi must be outfitted with a CCTV for the express purpose of recording passenger conversations that are to be held for 28 days in case the police wanted to conduct an investigation in which the footage might prove useful. The idea that peoples' words should be recorded when they are in public places "just in case," is really troubling, as it's hard to see why, if it's justifiable to record taxi passengers in case they're criminals, you wouldn't also record restaurant patrons, park-goers, bus-riders -- why you wouldn't, in short, record every word uttered in public just in case someone committed a crime.
And, of course, this is a natural progression from the existing CCTV doctrine that says you should record every person's movements (though not their words), for the same reason.
A council spokeswoman said the "video and audio would run all the time within the vehicle".
She said police would only locate footage, stored on a CCTV hard drive for 28 days, if it was needed for a police investigation.
She added: "The risk of intrusion into private conversations has to be balanced against the interests of public safety, both of passengers and drivers."
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: "Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the prime minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs."
Oxford taxi conversations to be recorded, council rules
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