Google has reportedly teamed up with Ascension, a giant healthcare company, to collect data on patients. The problem? None of the patients have been made aware that their data has been collected.
“The Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday that the company has teamed up with Ascension, the second largest healthcare services company in the country, for a project that was being code-named Nightingale,” Daily Mail said. “Within hours of the Journal’s report, the two companies announced the collaboration in a press release where they revealed that Ascension’s data will move onto Google’s Cloud platform.”
Google will have access to the full medical records of Ascension’s patients – including “test results, diagnoses and hospitalizations.”
Ascension said in a press release that it “is working with Google to optimize the health and wellness of individuals and communities, and deliver a comprehensive portfolio of digital capabilities that enhance the experience of Ascension consumers, patients and clinical providers across the continuum of care.”
That explains Ascension’s side of the deal, while the goal for Google is likely to collect patient information and serve targeted ads to people based on their health conditions. In the 21 states in which this secret partnership was being tested, neither doctors nor patients were made aware of its existence.
Both parties claim that the tech giant’s latest project is legal, but employees reportedly had some concerns.
“They and employees at Ascension have voiced concerns over the way it has been harvested, despite it being legal,” according to the report.
This latest charade likely won’t help with Google’s public image, or with building trust among internet users, most of whom are forced to use Google one way or another. In late October, Google was caught in a privacy snafu in Australia, and is currently facing legal trouble. It allegedly misrepresented its tracking services to consumers.
Google allegedly offered users an opt-out of location tracking services on its Android phones and tablets, but opting out reportedly did not stop the tech giant from tracking the user. All the while, the company was collecting and using the data of users who thought they had opted out of being location tracked.
Data collection is a massive business for tech giants, who sell the data collected from their devices and applications to third party vendors, who then send targets ads to end users based on the data.
Simply put, just as Google was collecting patient information without the knowledge of the patients in 21 states, it was allegedly collecting location data of unsuspecting customers in Australia after those customers thought they had opted out of being tracked.
Google has also faced recent trouble after it was accused of testing facial recognition software via its Google Nest Hub Max product, the company’s equivalent of Amazon’s Alexa.
Privacy concerns exist across the entire spectrum of Big Tech, which will soon know more about its users than its users know about themselves, if it does not already. Meanwhile, existing power structures in Washington, D.C. are utterly powerless to stop the unfettered growth of Big Tech, even if they wanted to undertake such a project. With the prospect of Big Tech authoritarianism looming, Americans are right to be concerned about the power concentrated in Silicon Valley.
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