Published: Fri, November 16, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

My Health Record opt-out deadline extended after website crashes

My Health Record opt-out deadline extended after website crashes

"Today the Government worked with the Senate crossbench to extend the opt-out period for My Health Record", said health minister Greg Hunt in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

"This will give Parliament enough time to pass further protections".

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who moved the Senate amendment to extend the date, said website crashes had made it hard for some people to opt out.

The change of deadline coincided with an extended period of degradation on the My Health Record opt-out site on the eve of the close of the opt-out period.

Labor says the My Health Record scheme "promises huge benefits" to Australians, but the government's "botched rollout", including the switch from an opt-in to and opt-out model, has "seriously undermined public trust" in it.

The opt-out period for the program (which began in July) was initially extended by a month, pushing it out to November 15.

King also called on the government to improve its public information campaign on the scheme so people can make an informed choice on whether to opt out of My Health Record.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has told News Corp that My Health Records won't be created for those Australians who haven't opted out immediately from Thursday but will be established within weeks.

The matter was passed on voices rather than a division, with the Greens, and independent crossbench senators Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer siding with Labor to pass the vote.

The troubled My Health Record system is in meltdown this morning, with overwhelmed call-takers scrambling to deal with the volume of calls and online requests to opt out.

Labor is this morning moving in federal Parliament to extend the opt-out deadline by a year to allow privacy concerns to be addressed before the system goes live.

"The Australian Digital Health Agency notifies the OAIC in all instances where there may have been a "notifiable data breach" which is a defined term".

Law enforcement agencies can only access a person's My Health Record with a warrant or court order (changes passed in Lower House). Two years of data about organ donation registration, Medicare claims, immunisations and prescription medications will be automatically updated the first time your doctor looks at your record, unless you get in first and ask for it not to be downloaded.

The government has also proposed the establishment of a Data Governance Board to oversee the secondary use of My Health Record data - that is, uses beyond the health records needs of individuals. If you don't want your health information shared you must tick a box when you activate your My Health Record.

You can opt out of My Health for your child as part of their Medicare registration.

Cyber security expert Nigel Phair, from the University of New South Wales, said the overall My Health Record database was unlikely to be hacked but he predicted data breaches would occur around compliance and governance of the system, including doctors potentially viewing records they shouldn't out of personal interest.

Private health insurers would also be kept further from the system's data, being unable to access it even when it has been de-identified.

It includes harsher penalties for people found guilty of improperly using the system, and better protections for victims of domestic violence.

Another concern was that perpetrators of domestic violence might be able to find the addresses of former partners, particularly if both are parents and have access to their children's data.

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