A particular story made me very angry on the news today, and particularly what a certain person brought in to be interviewed said. It was about the NHS using data mining to map out areas where, for example, there might be a high instance of diabetes. It is common knowledge that there are 1 million people in the UK who have diabetes but don’t know about it.
That sounds like a great idea on the surface, but it raised several questions in my mind… They use data like what supermarket you shop at, what newspaper you read, etc… Where the hell did they get that from?! Surely the Information Comissioner has something to say about the use of such databases by the NHS? And when did I permit my supermarket to sell this information about me? Never.
What angered me the most however was a person from The Mirror tabloid who was talking about everyone hating cold calls and the NHS shouldn’t do it. Now that’s all fine and dandy, why not. But what got me was her suggestion that we should keep an eye out on our neighbours: where they shop at, if they smoke or not, if they “look” ill, if they eat junk food! Pardon? My neighbours?! I’d get very angry about my neighbour if he knew that much about me.
Call me paranoid or something, but it already worries me enough that my supermarket knows that much about me. What’s starting to worry me is that the supermarkets seem to be readily selling this data onto my government, who can probably use it how they see fit. That’s rather alarming.
In other news, there is finally some evidence that keeping warm helps you prevent getting a cold: some researchers took candidates and dipped some of their feet in cold water, and kept others’ dry. 33% of the ones who put their feet in cold water got a cold, but only 9% of those who kept warm. Why? Apparently it’s because when you’re cold, blood gets redirected from your nose into your cold bits to warm them up. Your nose is your primary defence against the common cold virus. Intriquing! Mothers ‘were right’ about colds (BBC)