Google’s Larry Page wants to ‘save 100,000 lives’ by analyzing your healthcare data

By Eerke Boiten, University of Kent | June 28, 2014

Talking up the power of big data is a real trend at the moment and Google founder Larry Page took it to new levels this week by proclaiming that 100,000 lives could be saved next year alone if we did more to open up healthcare information.

Google, likely the biggest data owner outside the NSA, is evidently carving a place for itself in the big data vs life and death debate but Page might have been a little more modest, given that Google’s massive Flu Trends programme ultimately proved unreliable. Big data isn’t some magic weapon that can solve all our problems and whether Page wants to admit it or not, it won’t save thousands of lives in the near future.

Big promises

Saving lives by analysing healthcare data has become a major human ambition, but to say this is a tricky task would be an enormous understatement.

In the UK, the government has just produced a consultation on introducing regulations for protecting this kind of information alongside care.data, a huge scheme aiming to make health records available to researchers and others who could work with it.

Given the ongoing care.data debacle, this is a broadly sensible document and a promising start for consultation. In particular, it identifies different levels of data. Data that could be used to identify an individual person should not be shared in the same way as other types of data.

But, like Page, the UK government is also presenting a false vision for big data. It has said review after review have found that a failure to share information between healthcare workers has led to child deaths. It’s an emotive admission but rather beside the point in the big data perspective.

It is indeed entirely credible that many tragic failures within the NHS might have been prevented by someone sharing the right information with the right person. Sharing is essential, but when the NHS talks about sharing, it means linking and sharing large medical databases between organisations. Surely no case review has ever claimed that the mere existence of a larger database of information would have got the right knowledge to the right person.

Medical data sharing may be a good thing in many ways, but unfortunately there is no clear case yet that it prevents child deaths and other tragedies. It is only big data, not magic. Preventing child deaths appears to be brought in as emotional blackmail, expected to trump the valid concerns over the NHS’ big data plans.

To view the full article, please visit Google’s Larry Page wants to ‘save 100,000 lives’ by analyzing your healthcare data

Google’s $8.5M Privacy Pact Going To Inapt Orgs, Groups Say

“A coalition of privacy groups [including Patient Privacy Rights] stepped up its opposition to the proposed $8.5 million settlement of a California class action alleging Google Inc. illegally divulged search information, saying Wednesday that counsel has failed to show how the seven organizations chosen to receive cy pres funds are appropriate.”

To view the full article (only available by subscription), please visit Google’s $8.5M Privacy Pact Going To Inapt Orgs, Groups Say.

Five Public Interest Groups Underscore Opposition To Settlement In Google Privacy Suit

“Consumer Watchdog joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and three other public interest groups today in re-iterating their opposition to a proposed $8.5 million settlement in a class action suit against Google for privacy violations in the way it handled users’ search data because proposed recipients of settlement funds don’t represent the interests of the class.”

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1529279#ixzz2i1kPTbJt

Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements

The New York Times posted an article reminding us about the permanence of our digital footprints.  Those old posts are never forgotten and can now be used by Google to make a profit.

“Those long-forgotten posts on social networks, from the pasta someone photographed to the rant about her dentist, are forgotten no more. Social networks want to make them easier to find, and in some cases, to show them in ads.  Google on Friday announced that it would soon be able to show users’ names, photos, ratings and comments in ads across the Web, endorsing marketers’ products. Facebook already runs similar endorsement ads.”

“’People expect when they give information, it’s for a single use, the obvious one,’ said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a psychoanalyst and founder of Patient Privacy Rights, an advocacy group. ‘That’s why the widening of something you place online makes people unhappy. It feels to them like a breach, a boundary violation.’”

“’We set our own boundaries,’” she added. ‘We don’t want them set by the government or Google or Facebook.'”

“Dr. Peel said the rise of new services like Snapchat, which features person-to-person messages that disappear after they are opened, showed how much people wanted more control over how their information was shared.”

To view the full article click here

Privacy groups criticize proposed $8.5 million Google settlement

“Five U.S. privacy groups have opposed a proposed $8.5 million settlement with Google in a class action lawsuit over search privacy, as it fails to require Google to change its business practices, they said.”

Read more at: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2047323/privacy-groups-criticize-proposed-85-million-google-settlement.html

Privacy Groups Seek To Scuttle Google’s $8.5 Million Data-Leakage Settlement

“Google’s attempt to settle a privacy lawsuit by donating $8.5 million to nonprofit groups and schools should be rejected, advocacy groups argue in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila.”

Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/207420/privacy-groups-seek-to-scuttle-googles-85-milli.html#ixzz2eQQGnJNG

Re: The Internet is a surveillance state

In response to the CNN article by Bruce Schneier: The Internet is a surveillance state

Bruce Schneier is wrong. Privacy is not over — the public is just now learning how invasive Internet technology, tech corporations, and government really are, and that they ACT to protect and maintain the US surveillance economy. When enough citizens tell Congress and the President to stop, this privacy disaster will stop.

The public is just beginning to WAKE UP. Today is the start of privacy in the Digital Age in the US, not the end.

It’s a lie that people happily give up privacy for “targeted ads” — tech giants like Google, Facebook, etc. have PREVENTED us from having apps and tools that enable privacy (ie, our right TO control personal information online). We have NO choices because government and the data mining industry have prevented us from having meaningful choices.

Signs of intelligent life in the Universe:

  • Attend or watch the 3rd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy (its free). The EU Data Protection Supervisor will keynote and so will the US Chief Technology Officer—-the stark differences between US and EU data protections will be discussed—register at: http://www.healthprivacysummit.org/d/vcq3vz/4W
  • SnapChat—millions of free downloads of an app that shows people want technology that gives THEM control over their data: single use of info (a picture in this case) and the ability to delete info. See: http://patientprivacyrights.org/2013/02/snapchat-and-the-erasable-future-of-social-media/
  • A recent Pew Research Center study found smartphone users are taking action to protect their privacy:
  • The default for Microsoft’s Windows 8 browser is ‘Do Not Track’
    • Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch said a recent company study of computer users in the United States and Europe concluded that 75 percent wanted Microsoft to turn on the Do Not Track mechanism. “Consumers want and expect strong privacy protection to be built into Microsoft products and services.”
    • See more in the New York Times article: Do Not Track? Advertisers Say ‘Don’t Tread on Us’

DONATE to help Latanya Sweeney and Patient Privacy Rights build a health data map—-we MUST prove that thousands of hidden data users are stealing, using , and selling our personal health data: http://patientprivacyrights.org/donate/

SEE Latanya describe thedataMap at: http://patientprivacyrights.org/thedatamap/
This is the beginning of privacy, the war has just begun.

Re: PNAS study on predicting human behavior using digital records

Picture a box with 2,000 or 10,000 puzzle pieces inside—any one puzzle piece reveals nothing about the picture. But when all the pieces are assembled, an incredibly detailed picture FULL of information is created.

The data mining industry—including Google, Facebook, Acxiom and thousands more unknown corporations and foreign businesses—assembles the puzzle of who we are from thousands of bits of data we leave online. They know FAR MORE than anyone on Earth knows about each of us—more than what our partners, our moms and dads, our best friends, our psychoanalysts, or our children know about us.

The UK study shows how easy it is for hidden data mining companies to intimately know us (and sell) WHO WE ARE.

Most Americans are not aware of the ‘surveillance economy’ or that data miners can easily collect intimate psychological and physical/health profiles of everyone from online data.

The study:

  • “demonstrates the degree to which relatively basic digital records of human behavior can be used to automatically and accurately estimate a wide range of personal attributes that people would typically assume to be private”
  • “is based on Facebook Likes, a mechanism used by Facebook users to express their positive association with (or “Like”) online content, such as photos, friends’ status updates, Facebook pages of products, sports, musicians, books, restaurants, or popular Web sites”
  • correctly discriminates between:
    • homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases
    • African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases
    • between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases
    • For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test–retest accuracy of a standard personality test

The “surveillance economy” is why the US needs FAR STRONGER LAWS at the very least to prevent the hidden collection, use, and sale of health data, including everything about our minds and bodies, unless we give meaningful informed consent.

This urgent topic, ie whether the US should adopt strong data privacy and security protections like the EU—will be debated at the 3rd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy June 5-6 in DC (it’s free to attend and will also be live-streamed). Register at: www.healthprivacysummit.org

Google Concedes That Drive-By Prying Violated Privacy

SAN FRANCISCO — Google on Tuesday acknowledged to state officials that it had violated people’s privacy during its Street View mapping project when it casually scooped up passwords, e-mail and other personal information from unsuspecting computer users.

In agreeing to settle a case brought by 38 states involving the project, the search company for the first time is required to aggressively police its own employees on privacy issues and to explicitly tell the public how to fend off privacy violations like this one.

While the settlement also included a tiny — for Google — fine of $7 million, privacy advocates and Google critics characterized the overall agreement as a breakthrough for a company they say has become a serial violator of privacy.

Re: Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative

New York Times article Web Privacy Becomes a Business Imperative by Somini Sengupta discusses web privacy affecting businesses’ bottom line. As Mozilla’s Chief Privacy Officer says in the article:

“They’re asking for a different level of privacy on your service,” he said, “You have to listen to that. It’s critical to your business.”

Finally. More Internet companies are realizing the truth behind what PPR has said all along: products and services that don’t offer real privacy and security don’t fly with consumers. While some still may debate the exact meaning of “privacy,” what we consistently see is that consumers want to have control over what happens with their data. It’s about time we start listening to what the public wants and honor everyone’s right to be let alone as they see fit.