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E&C Leaders Want Answers from Ascension and Google on Health Data Sharing Arrangement

Nov 18, 2019
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Committee leaders wrote to the CEOs of Ascension and Google today requesting briefings from the companies following reports that the health information of tens of millions of Ascension’s patients has been shared with Google as part of an initiative called “Project Nightingale.” 

The letters were signed by Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

“While we appreciate your efforts to provide the public with further information about Project Nightingale, this initiative raises serious privacy concerns,” the Committee leaders wrote to leaders of Ascension and Google.  “For example, longstanding questions related to Google’s commitment to protecting the privacy of its own users’ data raise serious concerns about whether Google can be a good steward of patients’ personal health information.   Additionally, despite the sensitivity of the information collected through Project Nightingale, reports indicate that employees across Google, including at its parent company Alphabet, have access to, and the ability to download, the personal health information of Ascension’s patients.  Concerns have also been justifiably raised about Ascension’s decision not to notify its patients that their information would be shared with Google or how their information would be used. 

The members are requesting briefings from the companies by December 6, 2019 on Project Nightingale, including: what data Ascension is sharing with Google, how such data is being used and shared, the extent to which employees at Google and its parent company Alphabet have access to this information, the extent to which patients were informed about the use and sharing of their data, and what steps are being taken to protect the privacy and security of patients’ data.

Letter to Ascension HERE.

Letter to Google HERE.

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