Labour and their big databases

People often wonder why the Liberal Democrats are opposed to having large centralised databases containing every piece of information about you that you may have once mentioned.

However today’s Sunday Times leads with this story:

Labour hit by cancer leaflet row

LABOUR has become embroiled in a row about the use of personal data after sending cancer patients alarmist mailshots saying their lives could be at risk under a Conservative government.

Cards addressed to sufferers by name warn that a Labour guarantee to see a cancer specialist within two weeks would be scrapped by the Tories. Labour claims the Conservatives would also do away with the right to be treated within 18 weeks.

Cancer patients who received the personalised cards, sent with a message from a breast cancer survivor praising her treatment under Labour, said they were “disgusted and shocked”, and feared that the party may have had access to confidential health data.

Labour sources deny that the party has used any confidential information. However, the sources admit that, in line with other political parties, it uses socio-demographic research that is commercially and publicly available. (more…)

Really, there is a commercially and publicly available database of cancer patients? The article goes on to suggest that SureStart mothers will be next.

Sounds more likely that the Labour party are using Government databases which should only be used for Government use.

We’ve been told time and time again that our personal data is safe in these giant databases, and that a full audit trail can be produced when a breach occurs, hopefully the information commissioner will discover this before May 6th.

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This entry was posted in Big mad database and General Election.


  • Andrew Suffield 11th Apr '10 - 10:29am

    Labour has a habit of outsourcing IT service to commercial operations, so it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the “government” databases was really a commercial one, and was resold for any people who failed to check the “don’t sell my data” box on the back of the form.

    It’s probably not the medical records database, but some minor supply or administrative thing which just happens to be close enough.

  • And the news about the organ donation database. At least that should put the kybosh on an opt-out organ donation register however.

    ON this story, even if you can get such a database legally, who thought this was a good idea?

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Apr '10 - 9:29am

    This is pretty appalling, but let’s look before we leap on the data protection issue. As somebody pointed out, breast cancer is a very common disease; if you send a mailshot to a bunch of women (particularly if it’s concentrated on older women), you’re almost certainly going to hit a lot of people who either have, have had, or know someone who has had, breast cancer. Ignore the “2 women out of a group of 8 friends” stuff in the report – that proves nothing. I’d need to see some better evidence that women with a history of breast cancer have been disproportionately likely to receive these cards.

    Having said that, even without use of confidential information, this is a pretty disgusting election tactic – nothing I’m saying should be misinterpreted as a defence of Labour!

  • Malcolm Todd 12th Apr '10 - 10:10pm

    Yeah, if it’s true. The ST says “She appeared to be the only person who received the mailshot among 50 neighbours.” Spot the weaselly word! I’d want something more than a carefully imprecise newspaper report in a very tight election campaign before I came to any conclusions.

  • Christine Headley 12th Apr '10 - 11:12pm

    @Niklas. Mosaic is now more refined than just postcode level. At one point, we were different from our next door neighbours (same postcode). And I know of a care home about half full of ‘upland hill farmers’ with the odd suburban dweller, ‘new town’ person and ‘high spender’ thrown in.

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