The government yesterday launched the National Health Insurance integrated circuit (IC) cards at all hospitals and clinics despite concerns that the electronic medical data storage system could undermine people's privacy.
The Personal Information Protection Alliance yesterday gathered to highlight privacy and data security issues brought about by the compulsory use of the new cards.
The alliance was represented during yesterday's protest by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline, Taiwan Gender/Sexuality Rights Association, Persons with HIV/AIDS Rights Advocacy Association of Taiwan and the Taiwan Organization for Victims of Occupational Injury among others.
PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES
Although roughly 90 percent of National Health Insurance-contracted hospitals and clinics had gradually begun using the IC card system last year, the use of IC cards became compulsory across the board yesterday.
"The IC cards are a violation of privacy rights," said Wang Ping (王蘋) secretary-general of the the Taiwan Gender/Sexuality Rights Association. "When all of your medical records are electronically stored on one single card, you're entrusting your personal information to the government."
Wang elaborated on the discriminatory consequences made possible by violations of medical privacy.
"A pregnant woman or an individual with HIV will be ruled out for employment opportunities, for example," Wang said.
"If you are to store personal data, then there need to be laws on how that information can be accessed," said Tim Buckfield, who was present during yesterday's protest.
Wu Jia-zhen (
"The law is structured so that individual privacy rights can be overridden by public interest," Wu said.
Government officials were also busy yesterday morning making stops at National Taiwan University Hospital, Mackay Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to oversee the implementation of the IC card system.
"We will strike a balance between efficient use of medical resources and the protection of privacy rights in implementing the IC card system," said the general manager of the National Health Insurance Bureau, Chang Hong-jen (張鴻仁).
Chang further addressed the concerns of rights activists by stating that the IC card technology was better equipped to protect against privacy encroachment than the previous paper card system.
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