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Google's "Project Nightingale" faces government inquiry over patient privacy

Google accused of amassing health records
  • Government officials are asking for more information about Google's "Project Nightingale," a health-data effort with the Ascension health system.
  • The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says its inquiry focuses on the "mass collection of individual's medical records" and patient privacy.
  • Google said it is "happy to cooperate" and is following industry regulations including HIPAA patient-information disclosure rules.

A government agency is asking Google for more information about its "Project Nightingale," a data partnership with the health-services company Ascension. 

At the heart of the inquiry is concerns over patient privacy, with the joint project geared toward moving patient data to Google's cloud service and piloting new services that would allow Ascension medical staff to more quickly access data. 

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it "would like to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals' medical records with respect to the implications for patient privacy under HIPAA," according to a statement from Roger Severino, director of the civil rights office, emailed to CBS MoneyWatch.

Google said it is "happy to cooperate with any questions about the project." In a statement posted to its blog, the company added, "We believe Google's work with Ascension adheres to industry-wide regulations (including HIPAA) regarding patient data, and comes with strict guidance on data privacy, security, and usage."

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