Google secretly collected millions of health data

Google secretly collected millions of health data

15. November 2019 0 Von Horst Buchwald

Google secretly collected millions of health data

New York, 15.11.2019

Google has confirmed that it has partnered with the Ascension health care system and secretly collected health data from millions of Americans. The partnership, called Project Nightingale, was first mentioned by the Wall Street Journal on Monday 11 November 2019. Ascension is a Catholic health care system based in St. Louis that operates in 21 states and the District of Columbia. The company calls itself „a religious health organization dedicated to transformation through innovation throughout the care continuum.

The newspaper wrote that the records contained complete patient information. This includes patient names, birth data, laboratory results, disease diagnoses and hospital records, notes on patients‘ medical problems, test results and medications, including information from scanned documents. They were collected without the knowledge or permission of physicians and patients and then uploaded to Google’s cloud servers.

According to partner comments, the goal of this project is to centralize a patient database and create software that uses artificial intelligence to predict and diagnose medical conditions. Google responded to the claims of some privacy experts that the Internet giant raised many questions about privacy issues by stating that it adhered to legal standards, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPAA) of 1996.

The New York Times, however, has confirmed that „dozens of Google employees“ may have access to sensitive patient information and that there are concerns about this among privacy protectors.

Background: For some years now, the data collection giants Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have been engaged in fierce competition for data of every kind. Health data are particularly valuable, because their use in the context of BIG DATA – analyses make numerous follow-up business possible. Last year, Google hired a health manager to monitor its many health initiatives. Shortly thereafter, the search engine giant announced it would take over the health division of the AI laboratory DeepMind. The goal: to create an „AI assistant for nurses and doctors“.

Under the umbrella of Alphabet Inc. Google has combined several specialist companies from this industry. These include Calico, a company that researches biological processes in old age; Deep Mind (focused on mimicking short-term memory); Verily (formerly Google Life Science), which focuses on innovative healthcare applications such as glucose-measuring contact lenses, portable measurement devices, implantable nanoparticles, and surgical robots.