Parliament approves My Health Record changes

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The parliament has passed legislation making changes to the My Health Records Act 2012 in response to stakeholder concerns and the recommendations of a Senate inquiry.

The government recently announced an extension to the opt-out period, from 15 November to 31 January 2019, in response to stakeholder concern and a push by Labor in the Senate to extend the period by up to 12 months.

The legislation enables a range of changes, including allowing people to permanently delete their records at any time.

Under the original plan, some basic information about all records would have been kept for up to 130 years, even if a person requested the deletion of their record.

Other changes include enhancing privacy provisions for teenagers 14 years and over and strengthening existing protections for people at risk of family and domestic violence.

Law enforcement and other agencies will need to produce a court order to access information in My Health Records while the legislation also rules out the use of the system for a commercial purpose.

The changes also mean private health insurers will be explicitly prevented from accessing de-identified data for any purpose.

Harsher fines and penalties will apply for inappropriate or unauthorised use of information in a My Health Record. Civil fines will increase to a maximum of $315,000 with criminal penalties including up to five years in jail.