Are Your Medical Records Safe? Royal Data Breach Raises Privacy Concerns

Is staff at the clinic where Kate Middleton, among other royals, have sought treatment attempting to access her private health information? A report suggests so, prompting an investigation by the data watchdog.

As Kate’s mysterious disappearance continues to bamboozle, it seems that some have decided to take matters into their own hands to find answers. Worrying reports from the Daily Mirror allege that personnel at the London Clinic have made efforts to access her confidential medical records, presumably in the hopes they will find clues regarding the royal’s curious absence.

According to the BBC, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – which investigates data breaches and manages the protection of information regulations – has confirmed receipt of a “breach report” and is currently conducting inquiries.

While no answer has been released as of yet, if indeed hospital staff have resorted to breaching private medical data, it raises a concern that has become increasingly pressing over the past year: How safe really are our medical records?

Royal Privacy at Risk: Examining Kate’s Data Breach

If the palace had hoped that Kate Middleton could take a little time off without raising too much concern, they were sorely mistaken. The Princess’s mysterious withdrawal from public view has ignited a frenzy of conspiracy theories across the media, pointing fingers at everything from faked photographs to body doubles.

According to palace reports, the princess underwent abdominal surgery for an undisclosed condition in January and has since taken a break from her public duties to recover.

Despite official statements that Kate is taking time off while recovering from surgery, it seems the majority of the public remains sceptical, and is favouring the theory that something much fisher is afoot, leading to many taking it into their own hands to solve the mystery.

Unfortunately, hunting for clues seems to have got the worst out of some people.

A spokesperson for the ICO recently confirmed receipt of a breach report and stated that they are currently evaluating the provided information.

While the BBC has reported on this development, Kensington Palace has opted not to confirm or deny the report, leaving the public without definitive answers regarding the events at the London Clinic. However, if it turns out that clinic staff did indeed attempt to access the princess’s confidential data, it would be a disheartening yet unsurprising reflection of the current state of medical record security.

A Reflection of the Current State of Medical Record Security

The thought that hospital staff have been picking through a royal member’s medical information is a worrying one, though sadly not entirely unexpected. In an age where personal data is predominantly stored online, it has become increasingly susceptible to cyber attacks, data breaches, and accidental leaks thanks to issues such as malfunctioning hardware.

Moreover, concerns regarding the safety of medical records in the UK have been mounting, particularly in the last year.

Towards the end of last year, significant worries surfaced following a contentious deal struck by the government worth hundreds of millions with Palantir, a US intelligence company, to supply the NHS Federated Data Platform (FDP), as reported by Yahoo.

While the introduction of the new shared software system was apparently aimed at enhancing NHS collaboration among health organisations to deliver improved services to patients, apprehensions were raised regarding the use of patient data and Palantir’s involvement in the arrangement.

Labour quickly put pressure on the government, urging Rishi Sunak to issue a statement assuring that NHS patient data wouldn’t be sold, amid concerns about the potential actions of Palantir, which has previously collaborated closely with intelligence agencies and military entities worldwide, including worries of information leakage to organizations such as the UK Ministry of Defence.

The British Medical Association (BMA) described the Palantir contract as “deeply worrying”, with even Conservative MPs openly dubbing the decision a “mistake.”

Furthermore, additional concerns were voiced towards the end of the previous year by women’s advocacy groups, asserting safety risks associated with accessing NHS app medical records.

According to an Independent report, organisations such as Refuge, Women’s Aid, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, and the BMA all expressed concerns regarding the vulnerability of domestic abuse survivors and stalking victims if their data were accessible through the NHS app or GP medical records.

The calls for domestic abuse survivors and stalking victims to remove their medical data came after changes regarding how NHS medical records could be accessed. In November, the NHS app was altered so one could access their medical records there, prompting campaigners to fear that perpetrators could potentially view this information if they gained access to the victim’s phone.

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse organisation, criticised the fact that women’s safety “has largely been disregarded” during the implementation of these changes, triggering concerns over the overall safety of our medical records.

Are Your Medical Records Safe?

So, what’s going on with how medical data is being managed, both by the NHS and more broadly speaking?

It seems there are a worrying number of avenues for accessing private medical information online, and recent developments such as the NHS enabling access to medical histories through its mobile app introduce yet another potential avenue for unauthorised access to personal details.

For those concerned about safeguarding their data, there is the option to opt out of sharing health data on the NHS app or through GP surgeries. However, this doesn’t offer absolute protection, as your data remains accessible to the NHS or entities like Palantir. Nonetheless, it can provide an additional layer of security.

As for the royal family, one can only hope that the London Clinic, if there were indeed any breaches, takes better precautions in managing patient records, and that other medical facilities follow suit.