Privacy Group Slams California Bill That Would Put Health Records on the Blockchain

EFF said the bill is a serious threat to citizens' privacy; the immutability of a blockchain means false diagnoses can't be erased.

AccessTimeIconAug 7, 2020 at 3:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:41 a.m. UTC
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Major digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has said a proposed law to put medical records on the blockchain would be a major privacy breach.

  • Proposed in the California legislature earlier this year, the bill, A.B. 2004, would create verifiable health records on the blockchain that citizens show on entry into public buildings or public transportation to check whether they have or have had the coronavirus.
  • Per the bill's fact sheet, the idea is this would help slow the rate of infection and take people in the high-risk category out of harm's way.
  • But in an article Thursday, Adam Schwartz, EFF senior staff attorney, said putting any health records on a permanent ledger was a "troubling step" to a national identification system that could be used to track citizens.
  • The proposed system would mean everyday citizens would have to disclose their personal health records to unknown people who aren't necessarily medical professionals, Schwartz said.
  • He also said the system would unfairly affect those unable to afford regular testing – and therefore leave people marked as infected even if they no longer are.
  • Blockchain's immutability also means that false diagnoses would not be able to be erased, he added.
  • EFF has publicly opposed the bill since it was first proposed in May; the state Assembly bill was passed and moved to the California Senate in early June.
  • EFF has previously defended the right of a former employee at Kraken to post an anonymous review about the crypto exchange.

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