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Legislation Passed Strengthens My Health Record Privacy

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The Australian Parliament passed legislation to strengthen privacy protections in My Health Records Act 2012 without debate or division (see previous blog post relating to My Health Records Amendment (Strengthening Privacy) Bill 2018). The new legislation means that Australians can opt in or opt out of My Health Record at any time in their life. Records will be created for every Australian who wants one after 31 January 2019. After then, they can opt to delete their record permanently at any time. More than 6.3 million Australians already have a My Health Record and over 14,000 healthcare professional organisations are connected, including general practices, hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging and pathology practices. My Health Record supports the health and care of Australians who choose to have one.

Briefly, the changes will:

  • Allow Australians to permanently delete their records, and any backups, at any time.
  • Explicitly prohibit access to My Health Records by insurers and employers.
  • Provide greater privacy for teenagers 14 years and over.
  • Strengthen existing protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence.
  • Clarify that only the Agency, the Department of Health and the Chief Executive of Medicare (and no other government agency) can access the My Health Record system.
  • Explicitly require law enforcement and other agencies to produce a court order to access information in My Health Records.
  • Make clear that the system cannot be privatised or used for commercial purposes.

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