Legal impediments to data linkage
Large numbers of electronic health data collections have been accumulated by both government and non-government agencies and organisations. Such collections primarily assist with the management of health services and the provision of health care programs, with only a minority of these data collections also intended for research purposes. A number of constraints are placed on access to such data for the purposes of research, including data linkage. This article examines those factors arising from the intricacies of Australia's privacy legislation landscape which impede access to such collections. The relevant issues discussed include issues relating to the existence of multiple privacy and health privacy Acts, the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission in relation to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the constraints placed on the conduct of data-linkage research which arise from legislation that relates specifically to certain data collections.