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Tech Policy

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Being too curious can sometimes get you into big and costly trouble.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
Comment Utility
Although it is not detailed in your article, nor on the Information Commissioner's Office pages linked to, I assume the named people accessed patient records using computers rather than looking at hardcopy records.  That's the only real way that multiple instances of access could realistically have been logged.

I wonder whether the National Health Service (or any of the affected Health care Trusts) have actually placed any restrictions on who is permitted (and I refer to user account status here) to gain access to various areas of their IT databases in the wake of these breaches?

The main subject of your article, namely Clare Lawson, was a Staff Nurse. In such a position there would normally be a Charge Nurse (equivalent to Supervisor in other vocational disciplines) above her on that ward and also a Matron or Sister (a "Manager" nurse) covering that ward and perhaps others.  It isn't known from the available information whether any staff of those ranks would consistently be on duty at the same times as the subject, but if they were then they are the supervisory members of staff who should have access to patient records, not the standard nursing staff.  There may be some situations, however, where a Staff Nurse could have been in charge and therefore may have required legitimate access to records during a shift.  This is not to say that even a higher ranking member of nursing staff may be tempted to excessive and knowingly wrong patient record accesses, but keeping permission to those of a certain ranking and above would reduce the likelihood.  

The second subject (Nicola Wren) was an Administrator and it is possible that in such a position whe would have have required access to patient records.  There isn't much that could be done by way of restriction in such a case, but it looks as though this woman was frequently checking for updates in records relating to a friend, acquaintance, or relative over the 3 week period.

There is absolutely no reason why the third subject, Marian Waddell, should have had access to patient records held in computer databases because she was a Nursing Auxiliary.  This position is sometimes referred to by the title "Healthcare Assistant".  Often these positions are occupied by ex-nurses or midwives who returned to healthcare after long periods of absence during which their qualifications lapsed.  They are either part-qualified or unqualified "nurses".  I'm not saying they don't know what they are doing, because some know more than doctors or nurses, but their duties are restricted.  Again though, the ICO web page relating to Marian Waddell does not specify whether she accessed a computer record or a hardcopy record.  All it says is that she accessed the records of one patient.

What I am most curious about is the statement made by the Director of Investigations for the ICO:
"This abuse of a position of trust has caused significant distress to a number of people".
Obviously there would be some distress caused to fellow nursing staff who might feel betrayed and let down by a colleague's actions, but were the patients themselves informed about the unlawful accesses of their records?
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LVL 5

Author Comment

by:Adrian McGarry
Comment Utility
Thanks for the comments BillDL.

I agree, this must have been captured via computer security audit logging, but is not the sort of detail that was released by the ICO.

We would all hope that appropriate measures are taken for securing highly sensitive information, such as patient records, especially in large organisations such as the NHS in the UK.

Unfortunately (& I am going to link this to information security lapses, like with the Wannacry incident) it is very apparent the NHS is not a good example for information security and data governance.

Even this week we have seen the reports of how much Wannacry cost the NHS https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/this-is-how-much-the-wannacry-ransomware-attack-cost-the-nhs/ £92m.  How much would it have cost the NHS to deploy a 0-day threat system to protect against this and countless other malware attacks, let alone the human cost of this malpractice.

You really only need to prove this by looking at the UK ICO https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/ to see how many NHS trusts have been involved in action enforcements.

And is this any different for other countries?  This article covers recent Australian data breaches within the healthcare system http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/743342/data+protection/Data+breaches+on+the+rise+in+the+health+sector

We see far too many organisations with very bad practices, poor security and no training for staff.

To teach basic security skills, providing training to all employees is common-sense, which is why I write about this subject, train people and organisations about this subject and sometimes can get very emotive about data protection and security.

Does this make me a bit geeky about this subject, maybe!  But there is a human cost to this.  Not only with these NHS examples but with each data breach that occurs because of negligence, malpractice and just plain incompetence, it’s unnecessary and can be stopped by raising awareness.
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It’s been a while since the GDPR came into force and the world hasn’t come to an end! In this article we are going to look at the news headlines and expand on the stories with an interesting series of opinions.
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In the United States, 2.3 million Americans without transportation live more than one mile away from the nearest supermarket. These areas are called food deserts. Technology can help this population eat better and save money.


A population that’s expanding in an environment that consists of limited resources poses a problem for the future of mankind. As more industries seek and implement sustainable solutions, society is slowly undergoing a change where business leaders are starting to think about the impact that enterprise activities have on the environment. Resultingly, enterprise leaders and researchers are turning to technology to find ways to sustain the environment and humanity.


Researchers estimate that the world’s food producers must double production by the year 2030 to fulfill the dietary needs generated by the planet’s forecast population growth to 9 billion people by the year 2050. This is an enormous challenge in a world where the United Nations (UN) is also working to end all hunger by the year 2030. Technology provides faster solutions for learning about and solving these kinds of problems. Innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data systems are helping scientists make great advancements in sustainability research. They’re discovering valuable ways to preserve the environment by improving the ways that enterprises conduct business.


The Logistics of Putting Food on the Table

Technology makes transportation more efficient. To reduce the impact on the environment, scientists urge consumers to make more use of public transportation such as buses, ride shares and trains. If consumers were to follow the recommendations of researchers and use public transportation, they could reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 37 million metric tons and gasoline consumption by 4.2 billion gallons.


Food often travels great distance before it makes it to the meal table. In fact, this is a great source of debate in the scientific community. With some food products, transport is a significant source of greenhouse emissions. Some researchers argue that the carbon use of organic crops does more harm to the environment than the carbon emission generated by transporting food. Other researchers note that the sum of all current agriculture activities produce the maximum estimated level of organic emissions that scientists forecast the planet can withstand in total by the year 2050. Either way, food waste contributes to this problem double fold by requiring producers to grow more goods and then transport them to consumers.


The Growing Need for Accessible Nutrition

The American Nutrition Association designates regions that lack a sufficient supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods as “food deserts.” These are generally impoverished areas occupied by underserved populations. In food deserts, it’s difficult for consumers to access healthy and culturally relevant foods. Technology, however, is a solution for accessing nutritious and desirable nourishment. It makes it possible for supermarkets to deliver food to consumers. With innovations such as smartphone apps, even consumers who don’t live near supermarkets and are without transportation have access to healthy foods in select regions.


Researchers hope that technology will help them find more solutions for providing access to food for consumers who live in food deserts. Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations, social workers and government agencies are conducting outreach work to help consumers who live in these areas, including initiatives such as nutrition training and health advocacy. The entities also work to promote awareness of food deserts and distribute information about how to help people who live in these areas. Together, these individuals and organizations can help the residents of food deserts live healthier lives.


Sustainability in Food Distribution

Public demand has prompted enterprises to understand and mitigate the impact that their goods have on the environment. Innovative technologies have given enterprises this ability and resulted in a new supply chain term called “hyper-transparency.” Today, connected supply chain systems provide enterprises with detailed sourcing data. In the future, technology experts hope that the Internet of Things (IoT) will allow manufacturers and food producers to track goods throughout their entire lifecycle – from production to recycling and on through repurposing. Companies can already monitor inventories in real-time, and as more technologies evolve, their combined utilities spawn new, exciting - and sometimes unforeseen - applications.


Technology is transforming the world, and more enterprises are using it to take better care of the environment. One day, engineers hope that they can develop technologies that can measure the impact that all products leave on the environment. The development of this kind of empowering innovation requires the skills of experts trained in STEM sciences who can develop technologies into new and beneficial iterations.

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LVL 5

Author Comment

by:Ryan Ayers
Comment Utility
Thank you! Glad you like it.
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Healthcare has made massive developments over the past decade, thanks largely to technological advancement. Yet despite that these advancements are saving our lives, few truly understand how much healthcare has changed, and where it is headed.
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LVL 55

Expert Comment

by:Martin Liss
Comment Utility
I had some spare time so I went ahead and read the article and here are a few minor grammar changes you might want to consider..

Where you have "In an article by Bradley University they cite research", I would suggest either
In an article by Bradley University, they cite research
or
An article by Bradley University cites research

Where you have "Incentives are being put into place to encourage the changes" I would suggest
Incentives are being put in place to encourage the changes

I would also change "Some of the tools that are being implemented to improve outpatient care includes:"
to  Some of the tools that are being implemented to improve outpatient care include:

And

"will be able to find the services that suits their needs."
to
will be able to find the services that suit their needs.
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LVL 5

Author Comment

by:Ryan Ayers
Comment Utility
Nope! We can definitely take out the link if you'd like.
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Welcome to 2018! Exciting things lie ahead in the world of tech. To start things off, we compiled great member articles on how to stay safe, ways to learn, and much more! Read on to start your new year right.
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Last month, the FCC voted to repeal Title II, the framework supporting net neutrality across all broadband ISPs. We sat down with Doug Walton, database administrator at Experts Exchange to gauge his opinion of what will happen next.
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:dgrafx
Comment Utility
We want LESS regulation and we DO NOT want the government to control the internet!
Stand AGAINST Net Neutrality! Don't listen to the scare tactics!
Twitter and Facebook and Google and many other repressive corps are FOR Net Neutrality - that says it all doesn't it?
Say something the SJW's don't like and you are banned on Twitter and Facebook! Google simply skews your search results.

Freedom not Totalitarianism!
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Let's take a look back at the commercialization of the internet to understand why keeping it open and neutral is in our best interest as a society.
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:dgrafx
Comment Utility
We want LESS regulation and we DO NOT want the government to control the internet!
Stand AGAINST Net Neutrality! Don't listen to the scare tactics!
Twitter and Facebook and Google and many other repressive corps are FOR Net Neutrality - that says it all doesn't it?
Say something the SJW's don't like and you are banned on Twitter and Facebook! Google simply skews your search results.

Freedom not Totalitarianism!
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Learn why we support net neutrality and why the topic is important to all internet users.
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

by:David
Comment Utility
How it *should* be is that both you and your ISP have the option to make that decision in the first place.  An ISP is in business to make money, and if there is a market for a sustained throughput product,  you can bet your life they will offer it, and then customers will be free to decide if they want such a thing.  

Surely you don't have a problem allowing people to purchase internet packages of different bandwidths.   Yet you are arguing for a one-size-fits all package where you VOIP traffic or streaming video site has dropped packets and choppy sound because somebody using the same ISP is spamming mailboxes and spam traffic is treated exactly the same.

You can't have it both ways.   You can't make an argument against allowing people to buy a package from an ISP for bandwidth for one protocol without saying you're against allowing ISPs to offer more than one speed for all protocols.   It is hypocritical to say people shouldn't be allowed to buy faster internet speeds for a specific protocol ... unless you also say that providers should only offer one speed for everything, regardless of what their needs are.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:Brian Matis
Comment Utility
Thanks for the response, David! It's nice hearing the counterpoint. Something that's been very tricky about this issue is how there is certainly some potential for good improvements that could come of more technical freedom for the infrastructure. I could see allowing some sort of prioritization for "emergency" traffic, much like we do for fire trucks and ambulances on roadways, for example... But if left up to an ISP, what would be termed "emergency" traffic? The highest bidder?

If the ISP starts saying that some traffic types are more important than others (i.e. VOIP more important than mass emails) then won't some people start thinking that their email is more important than when I'm trying to play World of Warcraft (a claim I'll disagree with ;-)

I think the key dividing line may be in how much someone trusts the big carriers to use their powers for good. And personally, I really don't. Perhaps it's because the one truly terrible customer service experience I've ever encountered, the one time I got seriously angry, was with my cable company...

Another point: In your example, you mention VOIP service being impacted by spam. But ultimately, why would I not get my throughput? Is the argument for eliminating net neutrality in order to bring about speed improvements really just a way to try to avoid overall bandwidth improvements?
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Tech Policy

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