Search giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is back in the news on Monday as the UK data watchdog ruled that it and the NHS did not fully protect patients’ data in a recent medical trial.
Shares in Alphabet eased 0.83% to stand at $921.89 at the time of writing.
The transfer of 1.6 mln NHS patients' personally identifying data to Google was illegal, says the UK’s Information Commission.
Read this.— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) 3 July 2017
The NHS is the holy grail for data harvesters. An entire nation's health records, cradle to grave. Gifted to Google. https://t.co/uJfoiP1Zn2
Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham was precise when she summed up the case, saying there was no room for error.
“Our investigation found a number of shortcomings in the way patient records were shared for this trial,” Denham said.
“Patients would not have reasonably expected their information to have been used in this way, and the Trust could and should have been far more transparent with patients as to what was happening.”
The Royal Free NHS Trust gave the data to Google DeepMind, which is the artificial intelligence arm of Google, for the purpose of testing a smartphone app called Streams - and did so without requesting the patients' permission.
Today's ruling follows a Sky News investigation earlier this year that showed the most senior data protection adviser to the NHS had warned the ICO that patients' data had been transferred to Google on an "inappropriate legal basis".