Jean-Luc Mélenchon intervened on Twitter to denounce the role of Doctolib in the vaccination campaign. But the criticisms made by the leader of La France Insoumise appear partly unfounded. Above all, the emergency situation offered no alternative.
On vaccination, one controversy drives the other. After criticism of the very slow start of the vaccine campaign, then criticism of the government about open access to daily data, it is now the presence of Doctolib in the executive’s plans that is talking about of her. And at the forefront of the charge is Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The leader of La France Insoumise intervened on Twitter on January 12 to complain about the too important role of the website specializing in making medical appointments via the Internet to help organize the vaccination campaign, via the centers that are set up on the whole national territory to welcome the public. For the politician, this work should fall to the public power.
« Emmanuel Macron decides on an official partnership with Doctolib to manage the vaccination centers. A private company will therefore be able to file anyone who has passed through its hands. Once again, contempt for public services, forced choice of the private sector and privatized health data », Launches the parliamentarian, echoing Doctolib’s tweet which announced its partnership with the State.
Doctolib has been selected as the official partner of the State to allow French people to make an appointment online to be vaccinated against Covid-19. To date, we have already equipped 150 vaccination centers throughout France. pic.twitter.com/3lIlovjXBS
— Doctolib (@doctolib) January 12, 2021
Why does Doctolib play a role in vaccination?
Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s dissatisfaction with what appears to him to be a sidelining of public services in favor of the private sector has, however, led to a number of reactions. While it may be legitimate to regret the absence of a public platform for the task that Doctolib is about to accomplish, there are in fact a few arguments in favor of using such an enterprise.
The first of these is that Doctolib is already familiar with the exercise. For a while, it was certainly considered to use the TousAntiCovid mobile application, which over time has become a hub for information on the epidemic and a generator of exit certificates. But this site has been abandoned in front of its complexity. While perhaps it could have been completed, the deadlines were too tight given the urgency.
In particular, TousAntiCovid should have connected to Doctolib, and started processing personal data, even though everything has been done – and everyone was demanding – so that the application limits any risk of identification as much as possible. Clearly, the orientation of TousAntiCovid did not match this change of direction. In short, we might as well solve the squaring of the circle.
This haste is also a second argument: the epidemic has not disappeared, variants of the virus are circulating in France and the rest of the world, a new outbreak is possible, with the key to a third confinement. The priority is therefore vaccination, which remains very modest across the country: barely 130,000 individuals had a first dose, or 0.2% of the population.
A last major argument can also be used: the site is widely used and known to everyone, or almost. It is capable of managing appointments in proportions that few sites would doubtless be able to handle. This is what Doctolib allowed himself to recall to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, referring to a site which is used by more than 42 million French men and women.
As the journalist finally adds Raphaël Grably, Doctolib does not manage the vaccination centers either. The company is not the only one selected – there are two others, Maiia and Keldoc. And the fact is that the Health Insurance does not have its own appointment scheduling solution. Maybe that will have to change in the future, but the timing is unfavorable to change everything now.
« The data of our users are used exclusively for making appointments »
Far from wanting to go tweetclash with the leader of La France Insoumise, the company’s Twitter account tried to moderate the assertions of the politician: ” The data of our users are secure, used exclusively for making appointments and are the property of patients », Adding that he only accompanies« simply caregivers in the organization of vaccination centers ».
A legal framework is required for Doctolib
In other responses, addressed to perplexed Internet users, Doctolib insisted on the fact that health data is only used ” allow healthcare professionals and establishments to manage their patients and their consultations “And” help patients manage their health online “. The public has the possibility to oppose its refusal of any treatment by the site. This treatment exclude advertising or selling services.
Regulations in Europe do not prohibit private service providers from participating in the processing and hosting of health data. However, in view of their particular nature, reinforced measures must be taken to ensure their safety and integrity. This is what the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) recalls on his site.
Addressing healthcare professionals, the CNIL indicates that if they go through a service provider who processes data in their name and on their behalf (eg: hosting of data by an approved or certified health data host, etc.), « as a subcontractor, it must guarantee you a level of security adapted to the risk “. Indeed, health data is inherently sensitive data.
In terms of accommodation, Doctolib explains in its personal data protection policy what ” the personal data (including health) of patients who use Doctolib’s services are hosted by a physical infrastructure host and outsourcer having received the certification HDS (Health Data Host). »
Doctolib explains that the use of an HDS certified host is a necessity for ” comply with the provisions of the Public Health Code “. In addition, Doctolib recalls that it is subject to the various regulations in France and in Europe, whether it is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and more specifically the law on data processing and freedoms. .
A controversy in the controversy may however erupt, because the host to which Doctolib uses is Amazon Web Services – an American platform. This doesn’t mean that she has access to health data or appointment scheduling information, but the controversy over Microsoft’s involvement in hosting the Health Data Hub (HDH) is in all respects similar.
In other page written by Doctolib, the company specifies that ” patient health data is protected with the highest level of security […]. Only patients and their healthcare professionals can access the data “. In particular, an encryption ” systematic and at several levels ”, Which allows for example to avoid that we consult them wrongly, including after a hack.
The registration of which Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaks also seems unlikely to the extent that the law allows the public to request the deletion of their data at any time. Conservation does not appear to be of interest to Doctolib either, because trading in it would expose it to prosecution under the terms of L1111-8 of the Public Health Code (5 years in prison and 300,000 euros fine)
There is a problem with the “registration”, but that is to be found on the side of the VaccinCovid information system, which contains people vaccinated against covid-19. This does not mean that this database is illegitimate or without a legal basis: indeed, this database is required by the need to be able to follow patients, both administratively and medically.
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