TTP extends its best wishes to all those impacted by the coronavirus and hopes that all are safe and well. For those readers based in the UK the NHS coronavirus guidance can be found here and Government guidance here. Stay home, stay safe. Continue reading
Privacy International (“PI”) has scrutinized Amazon’s contact with the Department of Health to harvest data for Alexa services. The contract started from 14 December 2018 and will be in effect till 15 October 2024.
The contract covers Amazon using the data of the NHS website and integrating it with Alexa, allowing Alexa to better respond to medical questions. This permits Alexa to better respond to a range of medical questions with the vetted information available from the NHS website. Readers should note that the arrangement DOES NOT SHARE THIRD-PARTY HEALTHCARE DATA. The focus is permitting Alexa to access the NHS website’s publically available data to enhance its response to heathcare questions. Patient data, as far as we know, was not part of the agreement.
PI then goes on to scrutinize the contract in detail giving an overview of the key terms and conditions. The article also covers the commercial vs public interest issues arising from the redaction of parts of the contract, raising matters of transparency in government contracting.
The sharing of data under this agreement permits Alexa to use data gathered from the NHS website. This is for informational purposes as the site is typically a first port of call for those concerned about symptoms. By integrating this data Amazon helps Alexa enhance its service offering. It has notably been said, by the Guardian, that such accessibility was granted free of charge.
Google Cloud has been providing Ascension, the second biggest healthcare provider in the US, with cloud infrastructure services since July 2019. Providing software services to healthcare providers to facilitate the secure management of patient data is not uncommon for Google. The services Ascension are taking are similarly commonplace- the migration of data to Google Cloud, utilizing suite productivity tools and providing technological tools to Ascension’s doctors for use. What perhaps is the defining factor is the scale, with this being the largest project of its kind to date – managing data of over 50 million Americans. This was dubbed “Project Nightingale”.