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Alphabet plans to engage DeepMind Health in its Google Search department. As a result, privacy advocates are critical of the plan. DeepMind Health has access to patient files, says Bloomberg.

Data protection advocates are angry about the plan. Alphabet previously promised to keep DeepMind Health – which uses millions of British medical data to monitor and diagnose diseases – separate from Google. But now it’s going to come back to that promise.

The aim is to bring the benefits of DeepMind Health to more people around the world faster than it could do on its own. Google says it keeps patients’ data protected. The data is stored in a data centre that is not run by Alphabet and is kept separate from all other data. “The merger would not change this attitude without the consent of the hospitals,” says Google.

Critics, however, fear that the company will come back to this later, and link medical data to its search engine and Gmail app. According to them, this would pose a major privacy risk. “Google converts patient data into secret intellectual property, which makes treating future patients very expensive,” said Deborah Peel, head of Patient Privacy Rights in America. “Companies are led by profit and Google Health is all about profit.”


Alphabet hopes that the merger will match the investments of competitors in health, says Jeff Becker, senior analyst at Forrester Research. Apple focuses its investments on consumers and insurers, while Amazon has companies that offer medical insurance to employees in mind. In turn, Google wants to work with hospitals and doctors, according to Becker.

The internet giant has a four-year project with Novartis to stop contact lenses that measure blood sugar for diabetics. According to Becker, this is a signal that the company is less interested in projects that probably do not generate turnover. The merger of DeepMind and Google Health, however, makes business sense. “DeepMind is a research team. Google is better built to scale health apps and make money with them.”

Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, could harm the change in course of tech initiatives if it causes distrust in Big Data companies. In addition, according to him, it shows that stricter rules for privacy problems and abuse are needed. “I want to see major consequences for the invasion of privacy. If there are no consequences, it’s not useful.”

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.