Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis has slammed his own party’s reported plans to hand health records to commercial IT companies as “naïve” and “dangerous.”

Writing in The Times yesterday, the MP for Haltemprice and Howden said the first time he read about the policy his “heart sank.”

“The policy described was so naïve, I could only hope that it was an unapproved kite-flying exercise by a young researcher in Conservative HQ,” he wrote.

“If not, what was proposed was both dangerous in its own right, and hazardous to the public acceptability of necessary reforms to the state’s handling of our private information.”

A number of papers reported at the start of July that the Conservatives might give patients the option of transferring their health records to personal health record platforms such as those run by Microsoft and Google.

The reports followed a Centre for Policy Studies paper that recommended such a move, alongside a wider use of cloud computing and decentralised IT systems.

Davis responded in his article that although there were “massive weakness in the NHS’s bloated central database and benefits from using the privates sector, there are enormous risks.”

He argued there were dangers in the potential misuse of data by companies with a large internet presence, laying into Google in particular.

“Google is the last company I would trust with data belonging to me,” he wrote, adding that Privacy International had given the search giant its lowest possible assessment rating – ‘hostile to privacy’.

Davis is not in favour of the status quo. In the Times, he argued people should be allowed to nominate where their personal data is kept, since private companies facing legal action for data breaches have more incentive to protect information than the state.

However, he wants clear rules about how data can be held and used to be put in place before changes are made. “Private companies are better than the state, but they are not saints,” he wrote.

“Accordingly before any government privatises personal data management, we should be clear about the rules and the structure. The protection of the individual’s right to control his or her data must be plain and strong.”

Davis also believes that health information has to be secure, that it should not be sold on, that it should not be data mined for commercial insights, and it should not be used for targeted advertising.

He concluded: “If a new government is not careful about these so-called “post-bureaucratic” policies, data-loss and data-misuse scandals will kill public confidence in it. This would be a tragedy.”

Link: Times article: I wouldn’t trust Google with my personal info by David Davis