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Private go-ahead nationwide SPD nears critical moment

In April this year, the introduction of a national Electronic Patient Record (EHR) was almost unanimously torpedoed by the Senate. And rightly so. After all, such a colossal SPD entails major privacy and security risks. Thus also experts consulted by the Senate. The market parties involved (including health insurers), however, did not allow themselves to be easily swayed by this democratic cobblestone and almost immediately pushed for a private relaunch. Yes, you read it correctly: a private relaunch of exactly this same EPD outside our parliament. Apart from a summer interpellation debate, strangely enough, this did not meet any significant opposition from the Lower (!) House. Minister Schippers, too, seemed to have little problem with it, provided one could finance the national EHR without government support. A second condition, however, was the unambiguous consent of every Dutch citizen. This followed an interim 'view' from the Dutch Data Protection Authority (CBP). The CBP turned out to be straightforward: no exchange of medical data without individual consent. Truly a spoke in the wheel of a nationwide SPD... after all, resistance to it among the Dutch population is undiminished.

That same population, however, has little or no knowledge of a possible private relaunch: most people are still in the happy assumption that the national SPD has been consigned to the dustbin for good by the Senate. Citizens cannot be blamed for this: the media have barely covered the private development in recent months, perhaps also because of the silence and secrecy surrounding it. After all, this is mainly taking place behind the scenes, without inspection and participation by social privacy organisations like Privacy First. This while the House of Representatives did insist on such participation. It is therefore completely unclear to what extent attention is currently being paid to privacy-friendly alternatives. With this, the same pattern seems to be unfolding as with the faltering development of the new Passport Act a few years ago: a small group of like-minded insiders decided, assisted at most by patient and doctor organisations acting as 'controlled opposition'. In fact, those same doctors are currently under massive pressure to give their approval. The deadline for this approval expires early next week (with a deadline of deadline November 1 as). With this, the possible relaunch of the national SPD is approaching a critically undemocratic moment. Last Saturday, Marc Chavannes rightly drew attention to this issue ring the bell in NRC Handelsblad. Again, media silence then prevailed. Which radio or television programme will be the first to dare break this silence?

Update 6 October 2011: this morning broke the RTL Breakfast News the television silence. In the afternoon, the Lower House debated the possible relaunch of the SPD with Minister Schippers. An audio report of this debate can be found HERE.

Update 13 October 2011: Last night, Nieuwsuur also broadcast a item on the SPD from.