Facebook and Google tracking NHS website users

There have long been privacy concerns with Facebook, Google and others and this story about information being given to companies about people accessing an NHS website, may well worry a lot of people. It has been disclosed that users of the NHS Choices website are having the ‘conditions’ pages that they have visited, passed on to Google and Facebook and other tracking and advertising companies.

Miranda Richardson on Sky News Online reports that a blogger, Mischa Tuffield, originally exposed what was happening and that MP Tom Watson has now contacted the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley with his concerns. In a letter Watson said, “The NHS Choices website is used by members of the public in order to find out facts about ailments they may be suffering from and these illnesses could cause an individual embarrassment if the information was leaked.”

Some people might think the information is only shared if users choose to “like” the page they have visited but this is not the case. Users to NHS Choices are having their choice of pages passed on whether they have “liked” it or not. However the Department of Health explains its policies are in accordance with the Data Protection Act and says the homepage of the site explains information may be shared.

For more on this go to sky.com. Although guidelines may spell out exactly that information may be passed on we feel an awful lot of people don’t have time or don’t notice the official guidelines on such sites and it would not occur to them that their privacy could be being invaded. What are your thoughts on this? We’d welcome your comments so please feel free to send them in.

  • andrew blignaut

    Frankly this comes as no surprise to me. Facebook has been extremely insecure since it released and has been getting more and more insecure ever since. Several bugs have affected facebook and it is not secure at all. No content on facebook is private and any user who cares about his/her privacy should leave facebook. I have done that and will be joining MyCube or Diaspora as they seem to be much safer.

  • adamjohnson

    Constant privacy lapses are the reason I cant use facebook anymore, as much as i might need to. Facebook just isnt secure enough and privacy is a huge concern for me.Ive been waiting for new social networking platforms such as MyCube and Diaspora, which seem very promising in terms of privacy. I really hope they live up to their promise and we can be assured of our privacy online