Recent deal between Google and hospital chain Ascension raises privacy fears and faces government inquiry

Google’s partnership with hospital network Ascension raises strong privacy concerns. This agreement, first revealed by the Wall Street Journal,  intends to help both organisations collaborate to build tools to help doctors and patients. Already 150 Google employees had access to the data of millions of patients, without their knowledge. CNBC reports that this industry-standard agreement allows hospitals to share protected health information with Google as long as this information is used only for treating patients. According to the Guardian, the partnership gives the company access to datasets that could help it tune its artificial intelligence tools. But “Nightingale”, the codename of the project, is now facing an inquiry from the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The statement from the Office for Civil Rights indicated it “would like to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records with respect to the implications for patient privacy under HIPAA”.