Life & Culture

Hey, Google, MYOB

Everybody knows about the whistleblower whose intelligence set off the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. But you might not know about the whistleblower who revealed earlier that a ton of your medical data may be sent to Google — without your knowledge — as part of a previously-secret arrangement called Project Nightingale.

Google Looking at Your Medical Data

Project Nightingale, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is an arrangement between Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US (with 2,600 hospitals), and Google, to pass medical data from its 50 million patients to the tech giant.

That includes disclosure of patient names, birth dates, treatment plans, family members, and the results of all kinds of diagnostic tests. Neither doctors in the Ascension system or patients were informed or consented to the data transfer, which is set to be completed by March 2020. After the deal was disclosed, Google told the Journal that its goal was “ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives.” 

But privacy experts are alarmed and the Department of Health and Human Services has launched an inquiry into the project, which is named for the famed nurse Florence Nightingale.

In another recent deal that should make people nervous, Google is buying Fitbit, the exercise tracking device maker, although Fitbit has tried to assure customers of their data privacy.

The whistleblower disclosed the arrangement in a video on the Daily Motion video-hosting platform, which is similar to YouTube. It has since been taken down.

Consumer and privacy advocates have been expressing their concerns, especially noting the cumulative effect of Google search terms and location services combined with this medical information. So far, it seems creepy….but legal, according to this published report.

Readers, what do you think? Are you concerned about the privacy and security of your medical records because of this? Take this poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

What do you think of Google's efforts regarding medical records and privacy?


3 responses to “Hey, Google, MYOB

  1. Google medical research was how I first found out about my liver disease. They gave me a heads up which I promptly ignored until I ended up in the ICU. Shows to go ya…

    Being a participant in their “Project Baseline”, every year I get a comprehensive set of tests, a complete physical and blood workup at Stanford. It includes echograms and abdomen CT scans. They’re even doing a genetic sample this year to see if there is a family propensity (already know there is).

  2. Why do you think Google offers “free” accounts to schools across the country? They collect data on every kid and then “generously” offer them a personal account which gets converted to an even bigger return for Alphabet/Google. Use google products only when you absolutely must.
    And start asking questions, a lot of them, about the electronic record systems in every health care agency you deal with!

  3. We have no privacy. Especially when you have any google products on your phone and in your home. It listens in on your voice even though you are not using it. My husband was shocked to find cpap supply products emails when he just got the machine a few days ago. Mind you he was on his phone with the doctor so, there was no ordering anything on line so how does google know this? We’re being spied on!

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