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'Gadget-happy Swedes risk patient privacy'
Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter. File photo Epaminondas Koutsoukis/Piratpartiet/Flikr

'Gadget-happy Swedes risk patient privacy'

Published: 30 Oct 2013 17:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 30 Oct 2013 17:45 GMT+01:00

Three million Swedes had their medical journals on an unsafe database for eight months, which has outraged IT security observers and shows how modern technology can be at unnecessary odds with patient confidentiality, warned Sweden's Pirate Party.

"I'm personally very surprised when people are surprised that databases leak," Swedish Pirate Party MEP Amelia Andersdotter told The Local via email. "That's what they do. Things you want to keep secret should not be on the internet, which was built to distribute information, not to store it."

Andersdotter has asked for her medical journals to be removed from Uppsala and Skåne Counties' databases, and said she wished the counties would ask patients whether they approved of their files being stored on computers with internet access. 

"Firewall or no firewall," Andersdotter elaborated. 

She said that her own request to have her data removed was denied, because the case reviewers said her medical information did not contain information of a sensitive nature.

"So now I've taken them to an administrative court (förvaltningsrätten)," Andersdotter said. 

Andersdotter further said that Swedish state agencies' drive to be modern and up-to-date did not necessarily sit well with the demands of classified and sensitive information. 

"I feel like the Social Affairs Ministry's obsession with gadgets could potentially put patient confidentiality at risk," she said, adding that immigration to Sweden meant medical authorities here may not have properly thought about how sensitive it is for some foreign-born patients to have private information a few clicks away from anyone who wouldn't mind a peek.

"We have many patients in Sweden who come from countries where normally you don't want intelligence services to be able to map out family members' health," she said. "Who's thinking about them?" 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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