back to article Privacy storm descends on Dutch health care database

The Dutch Data Protection Authority is investigating claims that a medical database set up by health insurance companies reveals details about nearly every Dutch citizen. Birth dates, social security numbers, health insurance information, and addresses of Dutch celebrities, MPs, and even well-known criminals can be easily …


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  1. Alan

    Not just the UK then.

    They must have been taking lessons from the various the UK government departments...

  2. Dave


    I don't know how Dutch law works, but under UK law a person has the right to check the data held on him and correct mistakes.

    It should work both ways. If a person had the right to check the names and positions of everyone who checked their record, then perhaps only those who could justify their use of this information to the people concerned would use it?

    I don't imagine a citizen would be especially concerned with their doctor checking their medical history, but if someone else were to do so then that citizen should be entitled to an explanation.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Celebs are able to change their personal information, so they cannot be traced under their own name."

    Wait, so all men are created equal, except for celebrities? I missed that discussion in ethics class. How famous do you have to be exactly? Quite a few people know me, do I count? maybe if 10000 people know me, does that count? 100000? What if you're famous in Argentina, does that count for Netherlands? What about notoriety-famous, Canoeist John Darwin perhaps, he's famous, can he hide his details?

    How famous do you have to be to be allowed a free murder for example?

    If 80000 people has access to this information then everyone has, because only 1 leak is needed and you have 80000 possible leaks.

    Which dumb sh*t came up with that one. If celebrities need to be able to hide then there is a problem with releasing this information this widely and it should not be released.

    "...stresses that no phone numbers can be found in the database"

    Well gee that's a relief! If this person writes to me pretending to be a doctor quoting all my medical details and asking me to ring 01938575 urgently about my medical condition, they'll soon have number too!


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  5. frank denton
    Thumb Up

    We are not alone

    It's good to see that organisational idiocy, arrogance, lack of foresight and simply not thinking things through are also exhibited in other places in the world. I was beginning to think that we in the UK were alone in these specialist IT skills.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    NO security whatsoever

    It's difficult to understand how someone could not understand how if 80,000 people have access to a database, there is NO security whatsoever. How much is the heath status of a "celeb" worth on the open market?

    Yet, the UK government is suggesting very similar levels of "control" over the NHS database.

  7. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Answering the question

    "are those for real?" once for all... And as for the gents, it could bring new economies of scale in pharmaceuticals marketing.

  8. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    How does celebs changing details work?

    I mean then when they go in to get some treatment they'll give there health insurance number or whatever but then the name on the file will be different to their name... Surely that would be reason to think that the insurance number they gave was either wrong or fraudulent?

    Or can anyone walk in make up a number off the street and say "Oh those details i made them up as im a celebrity and didnt want people knowing the real details!"

    Stupid idea...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the great value of the Big Five global consultancies and their wannabees

    is that they can make the same huge screwups at the same time in multiple countries around the world, and no amount of protestation from People With Clue (pwc?) will stop them. Not for the foreseeable future anyway.

  10. umacf24

    But the NHS system has one important difference

    namely, scale:

    - Dutch insurance system: 80,000 users with access

    - NHS employees: 1,000,000 who will have access to CfH

    Which one leaked your details? (NB: they all share passwords.)

  11. Mr Larrington
    Paris Hilton

    At least...

    ...they haven't lost the data down the back of the sofa,

  12. Slaine

    quick - shut door before horse bolts

    Did the insurance companies get permssion to collate and store this information? The Netherlands is part of Europe and thus subject to the same level of protection as any other part of Europe... we can only pray that they don't try it here in UK...OMG!!! ...anyway this data isn't lost - it's only "available" to 80,000 and anyone found being naughty gets punished. Well you know anyone "found" being naughty. Now then, what's your password? "bud" hurrr hurrr. tffffttt.

    So, what exactly is "punished"? a slapped hand? a years ban on entering a coffee shop? castration? pre-frontal labotomy?

  13. fred

    Re: Solution


    Does this work in practice? How easily do companies cooperate with these requests for information about onesel? I am interested in obtaining (and hopefully deleting) my data held by submitted for a job application.

  14. V. Dekker

    My taxi driver knows how and where you're insured

    Since you can take a taxi to the hospital and your health insurance company will sometimes pay the bill, taxi drivers have to have access to the database too. Sure, not all taxi drivers, but still, that's how open we Dutch are about the data on 16 million people...

    And about changing details for celebs: it doesn't work. There is no form you can fill out, there no website where you can change details, there's no special phonenumber. You can phone the general customer desk, and they will tell you not to change anything because it's so cumbersome (for you and them).

    What's more: you are not told that your data is being stored this way, let alone that you are asked for permission.

    Vincent Dekker, one of the authors of the article in the Dutch daily Trouw

  15. V. Dekker

    Naughty but not punished

    One more fact: we've been naughty for quite some time now.

    But no, no punishment for anybody so far...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm Dutch and i work in a hospital. Here too you are entitled to see your entire medical file but you cannot delete (parts of) it due to legal reasons.

  17. Menno

    @Anon Coward: no medical data

    There are no medical data in the database, just your name, adress, which insurance company picks up your bills and corresponding policy number and social security number. Purpose of the database is just to be able to establish if someone has insurance and where to send the bill. Social security number is there because in the future it will be used as policy number as well.

  18. Ishkandar


    You are in deep doo-doo, my friend. Kroll is staffed by ex-CIA and ex-FBI people and you can guess the rest. Just make sure you have a bag ready-packed with lots of sun-block lotion. You'll need it at a certain non-Cuban seaside "resort" on the Cuban side of the island !!

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