Now, the tech behemoth will have additional ‘leverage’ over conservatives and other Americans with whom the company disagrees politically, socially, even culturally: Complete control over medical privacy (or lack thereof).
“Google now has the ability to view or analyze tens of millions of patient health records in at least three-quarters of U.S. states, and won’t say what they’re doing with the data except that they ‘want to be helpful,’” tweeted conservative writer Rachel Bovard, including a story from The Wall Street Journal providing the details.
The story notes that about a year ago, Google’s former top executive Eric Schmidt pitched the company’s cloud storage technology to health data company Cerner Corp. The deal included about $250 million in discounts and incentives, according to people who are familiar with the deal. But:
Google had a bigger goal in pushing for the deal than dollars and cents: a way to expand its effort to collect, analyze and aggregate health data on millions of Americans. Google representatives were vague in answering questions about how Cerner’s data would be used, making the health-care company’s executives wary, the people say. Eventually, Cerner struck a storage deal with Amazon.com Inc. instead.
Some people were incredulous and actually accused the WSJ of getting its reporting wrong. But Bovard set them straight.
“Let’s be clear that this is not ‘confused reporting.' Google is not merely storing the data. Per their own admission, they are storing, collecting, and analyzing non-anonymized, personal health data. We are way, way beyond cloud service agreements, people,” Bovard said in a separate tweet.
The failed effort with Cerner did not quell Google’s enthusiasm for health data. Since then, the WSJ reported, Google has managed to land contracts with some of the country’s biggest hospital systems and “most-renowned” healthcare providers.
Within the course of a couple years, Google has managed to gain the ability to view and “analyze” tens of millions of healthcare records in three-quarters of U.S. states (now you know why we have always opposed ‘electronic medical records, for just this reason, among others — hackers come to mind).
And of course, the tech giant isn’t finished — nor will it be until it can access the medical records of every single American.
So they can be ‘analyzed.’
Now, what would Google want with so much health information? There are all kinds of possibilities and none of them good, as the WSJ notes. (Related: Doctors are FLEEING medical practice and changing careers in record numbers as “health care” system implodes.)
“The prospect of tech giants’ amassing huge troves of health records has raised concerns among lawmakers, patients and doctors, who fear such intimate data could be used without individuals’ knowledge or permission, or in ways they might not anticipate,” the paper reported.
And what about the Fourth Amendment? Where is our right “to be secure” in our homes, “papers, and effects” against “unreasonable searches?” Or does the Fourth Amendment’s protections only apply to government? No, according to Cornell Law School; the Constitution’s privacy provisions also form the basis for privacy law.
But…no. According to the WSJ, laws passed by Congress during the dial-up age of the Internet make it legal for Google to use information it gathers from health companies “for purposes beyond diagnosing illnesses,” the company’s stated objective.
Fortunately, not all health companies are in on this.
“We are not actively doing anything today with Google,” Kaiser Permanente Vice President Elizabeth McGlynn told the paper. “We have to be very clear about who shares our values about protecting patient privacy. Not every tech company can satisfy that standard.”