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Ensuring protection of health-related data

Strasbourg 28 March 2019
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Ensuring protection of health-related data

The increased use of digital technology has led to an outright “datafication” of our societies. Personal data are everywhere and constitute a valuable raw material for the creation of new knowledge and are of global importance for the growth of many countries.

Health systems have followed the same evolutions, with generalised digitisation and frequent use of digital tools by professionals in the context of activities relating to healthcare and prevention, life sciences research, health system management, and the growing involvement of individuals concerned by care.

It is crucial to recall that health-related data, which concern the most intimate information of a person and of her or his private life, must have a special status taking into account the potential risk of discrimination deriving from their processing and notably be protected by strict rules guaranteeing their confidentiality.

To address the challenges posed by the increasing “datafication” of health-related data, the Committee of Ministers adopted a recommendation to help facilitate the full application of the principles of the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data of 28 January 1981 (ETS No. 108, “Convention 108”) as well as to take into account the principles developed in the modernised Convention and to apply them to this new environment in which health-related data are exchanged and shared.