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Privacy storm descends on Dutch health care database

Details about every citizen revealed

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The Dutch Data Protection Authority is investigating claims that a medical database set up by health insurance companies reveals details about nearly every Dutch citizen.

Birth dates, social security numbers, health insurance information, and addresses of Dutch celebrities, MPs, and even well-known criminals can be easily traced by doctors, dentists, or suppliers of health care aids who use the database, Dutch newspaper Trouw revealed this week.

The Vecozo medical database is used by health care workers to make payments easier and to check Dutch medical insurance data. At least 80,000 people are able to search the database.

Vecozo, which is secured with a password and a certificate, stresses that no phone numbers can be found in the database. Celebs are able to change their personal information, so they cannot be traced under their own name.

Anyone that abuses the database will be punished, Vecozo warned yesterday, but computer security expert Bart Jacobs of Radboud University Nijmegen and TU Eindhoven told Trouw there is simply too much information in the database. "You don't need all that data in order to verify certain procedures," he said. ®

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