Fresh concerns with Google's health app

DeepMind Health pledges

DeepMind Health pledges

DeepMind Health's move to Google has raised hackles with privacy advocates in part due to the way in which the firm formerly took care to ensure that its NHS operations were separate from the operations of the online search and advertising giant.

Now, its parent company, which bought the United Kingdom based firm in 2014, is looking to take on the health programme directly, putting an increased amount of data directly into the hands of the Googletron. I've also changed the headline to make it more accurate.

DeepMind has confirmed that its DeepMind Health outfit is being handed over to Google to continue its health research and academic partnerships but with the search engine mogul marketing its products. "This is a major milestone for DeepMind", DeepMind said in a blog post about the move.

Powles told The Guardian that Google's position that it would process patients' data without associating them with Google "accounts, products or services" amounted to "sleight of hand".

United Kingdom medical privacy group MedConfidential referred to a 2016 BBC article in which DeepMind was said to be ensuring that Streams data "isn't shared with Google".

'The firm's canned response about its ongoing commitment to its NHS projects and partners is an unapologetic distraction and diversion from brazen deception'. "Information governance and safety remain our top priorities", the founders wrote. DeepMind said it would never connect Streams with Google.

A DeepMind spokesperson emphasised that the core of the promise remains intact: "All patient data remains under our partners' strict control, and all decisions about its use lie with them". At least 10 United Kingdom hospitals have signed deals to use the app.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it found "a number of shortcomings" in the way the data was handled, including that patients were not adequately informed their data would be used as part of the test. This has led to concerns from data privacy experts.