Today I published an interview with Peter Neupert about the HealthVault initiative announced today. The most thoughtful commentary I’ve seen comes not from TechMeme but rather from the always thoughtful Lauren Weinstein who writes:

The most serious problem is that once medical data is in a centralized environment, there are essentially no limits to who can come along with a court order (or in the case of the government, as we know, secret orders or illegal demands that can’t usually be resisted) for access to that data. Service providers typically have no choice but to comply. The only way to prevent this is for the data to be encrypted in such a way that even the service provider cannot access it without your permission, even with a court order staring them in the face. As far as I know, none of the systems currently in development or deployment take that approach to encryption — but I’d love to have someone inform me that such techniques would be used. That would change the equation considerably.

Agreed. That’s precisely the kind of system I want, and that I would pay for. But I don’t think many folks realize what translucency is, or why they might want to pay for services that work that way. So I see the advertising-supported model as a sensible first step. And I hope that Microsoft’s HealthVault and Google’s forthcoming competitor will, among other things, help create a market for translucent medical records.