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Google is Storing Personal Health Data on a Mass Scale

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Google has confirmed it has been collecting the health data of millions of Americans through a new partnership with Ascension, one of the country’s largest nonprofit health systems. Operating under the codename, “Project Nightingale” patient’s data is analyzed in order to give health care providers insight into developing care suggestions. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that at least 150 Google employees have access to the data. Google has said it is strictly adhering to the privacy standards posed in laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The company was quick to acknowledge the sensitivity of handling Americans’ private health data, though its perceived caution has largely fallen on deaf ears. 

Project Nightingale has already stirred up a level of concern so great, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights opened an inquiry into the matter. Director Roger Severino said in a statement to the publication that they “will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA] protections were fully implemented.”

Google and many other major tech companies have repeatedly abused its data-collecting abilities, showing little regard for the privacy of Americans. Recently, Google agreed to pay a record $170 million penalty fee to the Federal Trade Commission, settling accusations that the company broke the law when it knowingly tracked and sold targeted ads to children. With an established history of bungling the use and storing of private data, Google is now under fire from regulators to ensure this does not happen again. 

Google is just another tech company that is vying for control over the health care market, an industry that is valued around $6.5 trillion. Other companies including Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have been competing to launch initiatives that hope to modernize the US healthcare system. 

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Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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