Health and Privacy at risk. Accessing critical and vital health information


Anyone remotely concerned about details of their health becoming almost readily available "out there" will be alarmed by what is presently under consideration in Australia. There is the possibility of the Chinese Government gaining access the health details of all Australians. Be alarmed! Australian Health Information Technology reports today:

"Chinese companies are required by law to obey directives from Beijing's intelligence agencies. So why would our regulators permit a giant Australian healthcare provider that is privy to highly sensitive records on hundreds of thousands of Australians to be acquired by a Chinese company?

The Jangho Group, a Shanghai-based building supplies company, wants to take over Healius, an Australian company that operates 2400 pathology centres and 70 medical centres, and partners with about 1500 GPs and other health specialists.

Security agencies around the world have noticed an alarming spike of cyberattacks aimed at health records, with state-based actors in China the leading suspects. Last July, it was reportedthat 1.5 million medical records were stolen in Singapore in a cyberattack experts believe came from state-based hackers in China.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's medications were specially targeted by the hackers, leading him to write: "Perhaps they were hunting for … something to embarrass me."

The Singapore data theft followed a massive hack in 2014 that sucked up the personnel records of millions of Americans, and the theft of 4.5 million health records from a Tennessee-based hospital chain in the same year. Experts attributed them to state-backed hackers in China.

In the same year, the medical records of an unspecified number of Australian soldiers, including special forces operating overseas, were sent to China by a health contractor that also has facilities in Guangdong.

The specific risk of giving Chinese companies direct access to Australian medical records is that China's intelligence services could access those records for information on current or future political, military and public service leaders in order to blackmail them.

Some may have psychiatric conditions or be on mental health plans. They may have sexually transmitted diseases. Data on medications would be enough. Publication of such sensitive information could wreck careers and make those who have been compromised open to coercion."