Health Data Hub & sovereignty - P. Latombe [3rd May 2023]
3rd May 2023
On March 31, in a first press release, I denounced the fact that the commitment, made in early 2020, before the senators, by the Secretary of State for the Digital Economy, Cédric O, to work on the transfer, within two years at the latest, of the hosting of the Health Data Hub to a French or European provider, had not been respected. This promise was reiterated orally to the deputies, and in writing in letters to the CNIL and the Council of State. Now, three years after the minister’s declarations, there is not the slightest hint of the beginnings of a move by the administration concerned to comply.
It therefore seemed essential to me to point out the inconsistencies between the government’s stated objective of working for the digital sovereignty of our country, and the implementation of this desire.
As is the case every time I publicly express myself on the importance and urgency of such a subject, the ministerial cabinets concerned suddenly wake up from their torpor, panic, and assure me of their involvement, of the need to be patient.
During our recent discussions, the deadline for a sovereign hosting system was pushed back to the third quarter of 2025, in other words to the Greek calendar, while technological time is accelerating. We should already be working hard on AI issues, and we still haven’t solved a sovereignty issue identified more than three years ago. Procrastination, when you hold us!
I was also surprised that the HDH had not published the specifications and the results of the benchmark of the various possible solutions for hosting health data in the cloud, which was carried out by the company B2Cloud. I wrote to the Ministry of Health, the CNIL and the HDH itself to request the latter document, thus starting the legal deadline for making a request to the CADA. It goes without saying that I would also like to know the cost of this study and the methodology adopted.
What has happened since this first communiqué? Nothing, or very little: the CNIL confirmed that it did not have the report in question, the Ministry of Health did not see fit to reply to me, and the management of the HDH, as usual, protecting itself behind the debatable argument of “business secrecy”, refused to communicate it to me. I will therefore continue my approach to the CADA. There is nothing new either concerning the specifications or the call for tenders which would allow French and European hosting companies to come forward and make proposals.
How does the management of the HDH justify its obstinacy in continuing its collaboration with Microsoft, without taking into account the objective of sovereignty, advocated by the President of the Republic himself, and the European concern for the protection of personal data with respect to American or Chinese extraterritorial laws? Infelicity to GAFAM (where it is so good to be)? Incompetence of the teams in place? This is what deserves a parliamentary commission of inquiry, especially since the HDH project is floundering and dragging on, postponing the expected benefits of its implementation, especially for researchers. What a consummate art to ruin such a beautiful project!
The temptation is strong to compare these errors with those of the Guichet unique de formalités des entreprises in the same observation: each time, we find the difficulty of our high administration to admit its failures and correct its errors, which is only equalled by its refusal to acknowledge them. In both cases, there is the same penchant for denial and the refusal to talk about the issues that make people angry.
The DMA-DSA bill will soon provide an opportunity to get the HDH project back on track. In order to ensure that our citizens have control over and protection of their most sensitive data, that which concerns their health, I will therefore table an amendment that will force the hosting and processing of this same data via solutions that are immune to non-European extraterritorial rules, and this within the framework of a call for tenders carried out in due form.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring together my parliamentary colleagues, beyond their partisan sensibilities. Parliament would thus ensure that the promises made by the Minister are finally fulfilled, and would contribute to initiating an ambitious and pragmatic digital health policy. In short, it would bring actions into line with the commitments made, particularly before the national representation. This could help our fellow citizens to regain some faith in the public word.
Member of Parliament for the Vendée