My Health Record to have increased penalties for misuse of information

12 Nov 2015

The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee has recommended that the Health Legislation Amendment (eHealth) Bill be passed, with proposed increased penalties for misuse of My Health Record information. The Bill proposes, among other things, to change the name of the PCEHR system to the My Health Record system and enable trials of opt-out participation.

The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee tabled its report on the Health Legislation Amendment (eHealth) Bill this week. The report noted the AMA argued against the introduction of increased civil penalties and new criminal penalties in relation to unauthorised use or disclosure of My Health Record information. However, the committee considered that these penalties are justified as deterrent measures to protect the privacy of system participants.

The AMA has opposed the introduction of these increased civil and new criminal penalties at every opportunity since they were first canvassed in the Department's legislation discussion paper issued in May 2015. This included the AMA submission to the Senate inquiry. The Department must now ensure breaches of My Health Record information and the associated penalties are very clearly explained to users, including in the opt-out trial sites.

The Committee's other recommendation was that the Department consider recommendations by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in relation to privacy in developing the public awareness campaign about the opt-out trial, including clear information about the My Health Record system and healthcare recipients' options for controlling how their personal information is handled.