You’d think big tech companies would learn by now that many consumers don’t like their data being collected without their explicit consent. Or maybe they just don’t care. One has to wonder after reading The Wall Street Journal’s report on Google’s latest mass data-gathering project.
What is happening?
Google secretly aggregating millions of patient records from 21 states, all as part of an effort, called Project Nightingale. Google partnered with Ascension, a St Louis-based Catholic health care system, to gather the data and design an AI and ML-powered software that personalises individual patient care, The Wall Street Journal has claimed. Neither doctors nor patients have been made aware of this practice.
Why is Google collecting health data?
Google reportedly collects lab results, doctor diagnoses, hospitalisation records, and more categories from Ascension, amounting to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth. Forbes said Ascension uploads this data to Google’s Cloud servers. In return, Ascension health providers use a tool, called Patient Search, to find patient information like known medical issues, test results, and medications.
Is this legal?
It’s hard to say. A press release published by Ascension earlier today officially announced its partnership with Google and said all work related to its “engagement with Google” is HIPAA compliant and “underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling”. It did not acknowledge whether patient data was collected and used by Google without their consent.
Pocket-lint has reached out to both Google and Ascension for comment, and we will update this post with their response if we hear back.
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