Google has stoked fears in Britain regarding its access to private medical data after the decision was made to transfer part of its health operation in London to American hands.
The company’s London-based AI lab DeepMind announced yesterday that its DeepMind Health device would be absorbed by Google Health. DeepMind Health is responsible for a number of healthcare projects in the UK, including Streams app, used by a small number of doctors and nurses working in the UK National Health Service (NHS).
The creation of the app was controversial. Last year, the British government ruled that DeepMind had received inappropriate access to medical data from 1
.6 million patients in the development of Streams. In response, DeepMind Health responded to its contracts with the NHS, and the unit’s chief, Mustafa Suleyman, assured the public of their intentions.
In a blog post, Suleyman wrote, “DeepMind runs autonomously from Google, and we have been clear from the beginning that it will never connect patient data to or be linked to Google accounts, products, or services.”
Critics say DeepMind has broken this promise, while DeepMind says data is not in danger. “All patient information remains under the strict control of our partners, and all decisions about use are with them,” said a spokesperson for the AI lab. “These tasks are still subject to strict controls for control and access, and processing is still subject to both our agreements and data protection laws. Moved to Google does not affect this.”