If it was not before, it should be clear that our privacy is severely at risk as the technology advances. Google has been illegally collecting the health data of millions of Americans. They secretly gathered records across 21 states on behalf of the health care provider, Ascension.
They have labeled this experiment “Project Nightingale”
Neither the provider’s doctors nor patients were made aware of the effort, according to the report.
The Wall Street Journal’s Rob Copeland wrote that the data amassed in the program includes “lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, complete with patient names and dates of birth,” and that as many as 150 Google employees may have had access to the data.
The New York Times corroborated much of the report later in the day, writing that “dozens of Google employees” may have access to sensitive patient data, and that there are concerns that some Google employees may have downloaded some of that data.
But Google tells The Verge that despite the surprise, it’s standard industry practice for a health care provider to share highly sensitive health records with tech workers under an agreement like the kind it signed — one that narrowly allows Google to build tools for that health care provider by using the private medical data of its patients, and one that doesn’t require patients to be notified, the company claims.
A spokesperson challenged the idea that Google has been secretly gathering the health records of millions of Americans, saying the only purpose of such an agreement is to provide services back to the health care provider, and that it didn’t announce it was doing so earlier because work was in the very early stages.
Google has confirmed that it partnered with health heavyweight Ascension, a Catholic health care system based in St. Louis that operates across 21 states and the District of Columbia.
The company calls itself “a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care.” According to the WSJ, Google is using data from the system to design software that tailors individual patient care using “advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Their goal is to learn about potential health problems before they even happen.
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