Rapid responses are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our users to debate issues raised in articles published on thebmj.com. Although a selection of rapid responses will be included online and in print as readers' letters, their first appearance online means that they are published articles. If you need the url (web address) of an individual response, perhaps for citation purposes, simply click on the response headline and copy the url from the browser window. Letters are indexed in PubMed.
The key point is surely the need for greater transparency and clarity, about how our data is collected, managed and used, so that patients can be informed and make a clear choice about what they are comfortable with. The fundamental principle of “no surprises”, as embedded throughout the report of the National Data Guardian*, is paramount.