In light of Google being given access to NHS data, David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab commented below.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab:

The news of Google being given access to NHS data is an interesting development, not least because this agreement brings the issue from the theoretical ‘Are you happy with the NHS sharing data in principle?’ to ‘Are you happy for a commercial company (in this case Google) to have your data?’

In fact, a recent study by Kaspersky Lab found that UK consumers feel helpless about increasingly complex online threats to their personal data and identity, freezing them into a state of indecision around how best to protect themselves – termed ‘Privacy Paralysis’. The survey found that three-quarters of consumers (77 per cent) fear threats to their online privacy but fail to implement enough, or even any, essential security measures.  It would be interesting to know in this case, for example, how many people choose to opt-out of having their data included.

It seems to me that there are four key issues when it comes to sharing of personal data and the privacy issues surrounding it:

  1. Is it right for any organisation to share people’s data without their explicit consent (i.e. shouldn’t it be opt-in, not opt-out)?
  2. Individuals have no control over how effectively a third party will secure it?
  3. People have no way of ensuring that a third party will respect their privacy?
  4. How can people be sure that a third party will not further share the data?

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