Google, DeepMind at Odds with Britain’s National Health

Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google and sister firm DeepMind are facing legal action for the way in which they obtained and processed over a million patient health records without consent in the U.K.

British law firm Mishcon de Reya has filed a claim with the High Court on behalf of Andrew Prismall and roughly 1.6 million other individuals whose medical records were obtained by DeepMind as part of an effort to develop a patient monitoring app called Streams.

“As a patient having any sort of medical treatment, the last thing you would expect is your private medical records to be in the hands of one of the world’s biggest technology companies,” said Prismall, who was a patient at the hospital where the Streams app was developed.

DeepMind, a London artificial intelligence lab that was acquired by Google in 2014, found itself in the spotlight in 2016 when the New Scientist reported that its collaboration with the U.K.’s National Health Service went beyond what was publicly announced.

DeepMind and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust signed a deal in 2015 that gave DeepMind access to pseudonymized patient data.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office ruled in 2017 that the data-sharing agreement between DeepMind and the NHS failed to comply with data protection law.

"Our investigation found a number of shortcomings in the way patient records were shared for this trial," Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement at the time. "Patients would not have reasonably expected their information to have been used in this way."

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