A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is seeking answers on how Google intends to use the private health records it obtained secretly, as exposed by a whistleblower, The Guardian reported.
"We write with concern over reports that Ascension has entered into a partnership that provides Google with the health records of tens of millions of Americans without their awareness or consent," the letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., read.
"Health information and records of medical care are exceptionally sensitive information that, when mishandled, expose patients to embarrassment, discrimination, exploitation, and other harms. Based on prior privacy violations and security failures from the company, we have substantial concerns about how Google will handle patient data and use health records for other purposes."
The letter includes 17 questions for Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google Cloud President Tariq Shaukat, most significant: "How such a vast amount of private, personal health data was surreptitiously collected, and how Google plans to use it."
Google's program under scrutiny has been brought to light via leak by a whistleblower among a staff of 300 working on the data transfer, according to The Guardian.
The patient data exposed includes names, addresses, and medical histories transferred from healthcare provider Ascension to Google.
The whistleblower cited concerns patients were not given the option to opt out of sharing this data with the third party, Google.
"Patients and the public have a right to know what's happening to their personal health information at every step along the way," the whistleblower told The Guardian.
Google and Ascension are now working to find the Project Nightingale leaker, interviewing staff on both sides and scouring computers, according to the report.
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