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Nebraska Starts Collecting Digital Health Data on All Citizens, Raising Digital ID Fears

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The State of Nebraska’s recent decision to amass all health data on its residents has stirred up notable criticism. The move, part of the newly formed state Health Information Technology Board’s remit, involves centralizing patient health and medical records. However, critics are labeling it as a massive breach of privacy and expressing trepidation about the apparent trajectory towards a national digital ID.

The Nebraska legislature was unanimous in sanctioning the creation of a Health Information Technology (HIT) Board in 2020. According to the HIT Board, its 17 members were enunciated by the governor and confirmed by a majority legislative vote. The members consist of various healthcare stakeholders — ranging from doctors to nurse practitioners and hospital administrators — bringing their clinical experience and expertise to manage health data.

To supervise and administer the collection of medical data, the regional health data utility CyncHealth was selected. It maintains the health information for over five million patients across 1,100-plus healthcare institutions in the Midwest. The objective of CyncHealth, as it emphasizes, is not simply to unite health records but to ensure they’re readily available to patients and their healthcare providers.

Yet, critics such as Stacey Skold, Ph.D., a board member of the Children’s Health Defense Nebraska Chapter, express their worry over how briskly this system has amassed health data. They perceive it as an alarming stride towards a digital ID and central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The Nebraska government’s decision to establish statewide information exchange via CyncHealth and the associated data harvesting evoked concerns among privacy advocates. Observing the HIT Board meetings further intensified these fears when it was disclosed that partner company CyncHealth was part of CARIN Alliance, a global coalition advocating for digital ID, and had affiliations with corporate giants like Google and Microsoft.

Prominent digital privacy expert Greg Glaser stated that the fast-paced digitization of health data in Nebraska was an ominous sign. He warned that digital IDs, rather than being mere aids for consumer convenience, would introduce an unprecedented level of control over individuals.

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