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Alphabet, the parent company of Google, confirmed that it has been collecting health data on millions of Americans through its partnership with Ascension, one of the largest health care systems in the U.S. Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita and Jared Blikre discuss on The Ticker.
U.S. stock futures fall following a speech from Donald Trump that created confusion over the state of U.S.-China trade talks; Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before Congress; Cisco reports earnings; Google's massive health project draws federal scrutiny.
Google shares slipped lower in pre-market trading Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal reported that federal regulators have started a probe into Google's 'Project Nightingale' cloud computing deal with Ascension Health.
"We are happy to cooperate with any questions about the project," Google said in a blog post later on Tuesday, regarding the federal inquiry. The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said.
A U.S. federal regulator has initiated an investigation into a cloud computing deal between Alphabet Inc's Google and Ascension Health which would give Google access to detailed health information of millions of patients, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. "We are happy to cooperate with any questions about the project," Google said https://cloud.google.com/blog/topics/inside-google-cloud/our-partnership-with-ascension in a blog post later on Tuesday, regarding the federal inquiry. The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said https://on.wsj.com/2NGPPQX.
Some of the UK’s most popular health websites are sharing people’s sensitive data — including medical symptoms, diagnoses, drug names and menstrual and fertility information — with dozens of companies around the world, ranging from ad-targeting giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Oracle, to lesser-known data-brokers and adtech firms like Scorecard and OpenX. Using open-source tools to analyse 100 health websites, which include WebMD, Healthline, Babycentre and Bupa, an FT investigation found that 79 per cent of the sites dropped “cookies” — little bits of code that, when embedded in your browser, allow third-party companies to track individuals around the internet. Google’s advertising arm DoubleClick was by far the most common destination for data, showing up on 78 per cent of the sites tested, followed by Amazon, which was present in 48 per cent of cases, Facebook, Microsoft and adtech firm AppNexus.
(Bloomberg) -- Google’s top health and cloud executives said the company isn’t misusing health data from one of the biggest U.S. health-care providers, pushing back against news reports that have triggered criticism from politicians of the search giant.Google employees only have access to patient information in order to build a new internal search tool for the Ascension hospital network, said David Feinberg, head of Google Health. No patient data is being used for Google’s artificial intelligence research, he added.The Alphabet Inc. company’s contract is governed by U.S. health privacy law that permits it access to patient records solely for the task of organizing Ascension’s various health records systems and building a tool to make them easier to search, Feinberg said.“That’s all we’re allowed to do and that’s all we are doing,” he said.Google’s deal with Ascension has been under scrutiny since the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday the company was collecting identifiable data on millions of Ascension patients and using it to build new products. On Tuesday, the paper reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ civil rights office was starting an inquiry into the situation. Thomas Kurian, chief executive officer of Google Cloud, declined to comment on the alleged inquiry and representatives of the HHS did not respond to a request for comment.Google Gets Access to Health Data With Ascension PartnershipAscension’s health data is being stored on Google Cloud servers but sequestered so only Ascension employees can access it, according to Google.“All data is logically silo-ed to Ascension and housed within a virtual private space encrypted with dedicated keys,” Kurian said. “Google does not sell, share or otherwise combine data from Ascension with any other data.”Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Google’s activity was a “blatant disregard for privacy” and “beyond shameful.” News articles and social media posts have questioned why Google needs to coallect patient information and speculated that the search giant could eventually use the data for advertising. That isn’t true, Kurian and Feinberg said in a joint interview.When Google does work with other companies on artificial intelligence research, it always strips out personally identifying information, Kurian said.“We never actually have Google employees understand individual patients’ data when it goes into the model. We have other technologies that de-identify it,” he said.Feinberg said his team is tapping Google’s expertise in search technology to build a tool that can scan through Ascension’s multiple electronic health record systems and make it easy for doctors and nurses to find the exact data they need, when they need it. The project is still in its infancy, but could eventually become a standalone product that Google could sell to other health-care providers and entities, Feinberg said.“If we can help solve the information overload and the pressures on doctors and nurses then there would be a huge benefit to a lot of people in those types of tools,” he said. “To me, that is actually really, really exciting.”(Updates with details on data storage from sixth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Vlad Savov, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s Google unit is actively storing and analyzing patient data with the major hospital system Ascension in an initiative dubbed Project Nightingale. Google's relationship with Ascension dates back a year and is fully compliant with all federal laws, especially the HIPAA privacy law, Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley said in a video. The health care industry could better optimize data and information if it is stored on a public cloud system, Howley said.
(Bloomberg) -- Singularity University, a Silicon Valley institute offering education on futurism, is reckoning with its own uncertain future. The chief executive officer is stepping down, and the organization plans to eliminate staff.The changes were outlined in an email Tuesday reviewed by Bloomberg that was sent to faculty by Erik Anderson, the executive chairman. They mark an extended decline for the company, which has in recent years lost an annual grant from Google and faced allegations of sexual assault, embezzlement and discrimination.Rob Nail, who ran Singularity for the last eight years, is leaving to pursue new career opportunities, Anderson wrote in the email. Singularity is conducting a CEO search, said a spokesman. The announcement of job cuts was made in line with U.S. labor law, which requires 60-day notice for companies with more than 100 employees, the spokesman said.Singularity declined to specify how many jobs would be affected, but a person familiar with the matter put the total at about 60. This person said many of those workers were informed of the news while attending a Singularity summit in Athens that ended Tuesday.Singularity, which takes its name from the notion that humans will someday merge with machines, was introduced in 2009 during a TED Talk by futurist Ray Kurzweil. The group operates for profit but with a mandate for social responsibility. Many alumni of its programs credit the organization with teaching them about cutting-edge concepts and helping them think more expansively.Others complain the programs are over-hyped and culturally toxic. One former student alleged she was assaulted in 2013 by an astronaut who taught at Singularity. Several executives have been accused of financial wrongdoings, including theft and fraud. Google ended its support of a key program at Singularity in 2017, although a senior program manager at Google, Jen Phillips, still appears on the Singularity website as an adviser. (Google told Bloomberg last year that she had left the advisory board.)In recent years, Singularity has expanded its conference and executive education initiatives, including a weeklong $14,500 program at its Mountain View, California, campus. The flagship Graduate Studies Program, once free to students, is now known as the Global Startup Program and costs $30,000 for two three-week in person programs plus a year’s worth of virtual networking.In the email sent to faculty Tuesday, Anderson said Singularity would look to increase its number of individual and corporate members. He also conveyed a message from Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, another founder and executive director. The two men said the need to solve “humanity’s biggest challenges is more important than ever” and that they “remain more dedicated to Singularity than ever before.”To contact the author of this story: Sarah McBride in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google said it has fired an employee for leaking staffer names and personal details to the media and placed two others on leave for allegedly violating company policies, evidence of escalating tension between management and personnel engaged in labor-related activism.A Google spokeswoman said the company is investigating the employees who were placed on leave. One of them had searched for and shared confidential documents outside the scope of their job, while the other tracked the individual calendars of staff working in the community platforms, human resources, and communications teams, she said. The tracking had made the staff in those departments feel unsafe, the spokeswoman said.Google didn’t identify the employee who was fired, or the staffers placed on leave.The company’s statement came after Bloomberg News inquired about two employees being placed on leave who had participated in activism at Google. The suspensions have been a hot topic of discussion at the company in the last week, stoking anger among some workers and prompting claims that Google is punishing people who have taken a stand against management, according to three employees familiar with the matter. The suspended workers were based in the U.S., two of the employees said.Workplace IncivilityThe development is the latest sign of disharmony at Alphabet Inc.’s Google and follows a tumultuous month in which some workers accused managers of attempting to censor internal discussions and shut down meetings about labor rights. At least some of the tensions stem from new community guidelines Google introduced in August that were intended to curb incivility in the workplace.The employees familiar with the matter said they were told that one of the people on leave is being punished for accessing company documents that were at the center of a recent controversy.The documents concerned a mandatory tool that was recently installed on the Google Chrome browser on workers’ computers, the employees said. In October, some Google employees raised concerns that the Chrome extension was an internal surveillance tool designed to monitor their attempts to organize protests. It would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to an employee memo that outlined concerns about the tool. A Google representative said the extension was merely an attempt to reduce calendar spam.The Google spokeswoman said no one was put on leave for accessing or opening a single need-to-know document; instead, she said one person was put on leave for allegedly searching for, accessing and sharing a wide range of company documents.Company DocumentsOn an internal Google message board, some staffers suggested that the suspensions represented a death knell for the culture of openness that historically defined the company’s workplace.“As a company we’ve prided ourselves on transparency and information-sharing,” wrote one employee, in a post reviewed by Bloomberg News. “As I was told as a noogler [new Google employee], one of the big benefits of Google is that you can see what everyone else is working on, and how it all fits together. But I guess we’ve abandoned that now. And that both disappoints and terrifies me.”In the past, one of the employees said, employees could review internal documents for virtually any project underway within the company. In recent years, however, more projects have become closed off and accessible only to smaller groups on a “need-to-know” basis, the employee said.Earlier this year, following a series of leaks to the media, Google executives tightened their grip. They shut down thousands of contractors’ access to company documents, citing security concerns. Google’s senior managers, meanwhile, warned employees not to access or share certain documents.In a memo to employees in early May, Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, warned that it was considered “a violation of our policies to improperly access, copy, or share confidential or need-to-know information, whether or not it is explicitly marked.” Walker added that the company had “fired people who violated our data policies,” according to the memo, which was previously reported by BuzzFeed News.The spokeswoman said the company earlier this year sent employees a reminder of long-standing data classification and security policies.Rising TensionsIn the last 18 months or so, a divide has grown between Google’s management and rank-and-file employees, who have become increasingly politicized. Employees have protested leadership’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and launched internal campaigns against some Google projects, including a censored search engine in China and a contract with the Pentagon to analyze drone footage. Earlier this month, more than 1,000 employees called on the company to cancel deals with oil and gas companies.As news of the suspensions spread through Google last week, many employees responded by posting satirical memes to Memegen, an internal photo messaging board.In one meme, an employee posted the Google logo alongside a reinterpretation of the company’s corporate mission statement. “Organize the world’s information,” it said, “and make it accessible on a need-to-know basis.”To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Gallagher in Edinburgh at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Alphabet unit's deal with Ascension health to gather information on millions of patients draws scrutiny from Department of Health and Human Services.
Cramer issues a warning on Google and 'Project Nightingale': "Just because the stock rallies does not mean the company is out of the woods."
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s “mighty” Google faced an unlikely figure in a London court on Monday: a cab driver from South London.The search company sued Goooglie Cars’ sole director Sohail Nagi for 10,000 pounds ($12,800), arguing the cabby had been “unfairly free-riding off its reputation” by presenting the company name in Google’s style -- using a very similar font and color scheme as the tech giant’s logo.In 2012, after a two-month discussion with Google, Nagi agreed to change his logo to black with cricket balls in place of the O’s to represent the cricket term for a slow spinning ball -- a “googly.” Google’s lawyer Maxwell Keay said this hadn’t been implemented however, and the logo was only changed this year, after the firm had filed its suit against the taxi company.Judge Gordon Nurse ruled in favor of the company after it agreed to cap its legal costs at 10,000 pounds, about half of what it incurred, which Nurse called “a very generous limit.” Nagi was ordered to pay the sum within 28 days and was warned that Google could make a claim against his home in London’s Mitcham neighborhood if he fails to do so.“I’m a very poor man and it’s very hard to survive,” Nagi told the court.But Nurse didn’t give Google everything it wanted. The judge rejected Google’s request that Goooglie Cars change its name because its new cricket-style logo is “extremely difficult to associate with Google, the mighty tech company,” he said.Google didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Milligan in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s Disney+ launch day, the arrival of a new video app that serves as Walt Disney Co.’s official entry into the streaming wars. But while the $7-a-month service may be a perfect choice for fans of “The Avengers” and “Star Wars,” or for parents of young children, Disney knows that’s not nearly enough variety for most people. Its efforts to address that shortcoming hint at what’s next for the industry: the revival of bundles. Buzz about Disney+ has been building for some weeks, as ads for the service cropped up on Twitter, billboards and TV. What’s gotten less attention is the crucial role Hulu plays in the company’s strategy. As part of Tuesday’s launch, consumers also now have the option of getting Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (the on-demand version with ads) together for a rate of $13 a month, rather than paying for each app separately, which would total $18. Internally, Disney appears to be calling it the “super-bundle,” based on the image file name that was displayed on the sign-up page early Tuesday morning in place of a logo that wasn’t rendering (whoops):With the way content has been atomized — e.g., you can only stream Disney stuff on Disney+ going forward — no service on its own will provide all the shows and movies that a typical consumer wants. So as more viewers become completely reliant on streaming subscriptions, they’ll try to configure a set of apps that gets closest to imitating their ideal cable package. But that may get quite expensive. Say you want to watch “The Mandalorian” — the “Star Wars” series that’s headlining Disney+ — but you’re also a fan of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” hooked on HBO’s “Succession” and want lots of live sports, the likes of which Google’s broadcast-channel-heavy YouTube TV service provides. That would add up to $85 a month, in addition to the price of internet access — not quite the savings one might have envisioned from canceling cable. For the media companies, this is going to lead to lots of subscriber turnover month to month, with viewers pausing one subscription in favor of another just to binge on a new season of a hit series.The pickings on Disney+ are simply too narrow to be a cable substitute. This is where Hulu comes in, and to a lesser extent, ESPN+ (which is chiefly for fans of soccer and college sports). Hulu provides some of what’s missing from Disney’s superhero and family-friendly fare, with popular originals such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” recent episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other licensed programming. While the super bundle is really just Disney+ and Hulu throwing in ESPN+ for free, it's strategically priced at the same rate as Netflix and provides insight into Disney's thinking.Disney won’t be alone in looking for ways to bundle services for customers. HBO Max, the streaming app that AT&T Inc. is introducing in May 2020, is effectively a $15 bundle of HBO, content from sister networks such as TBS, the “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory” franchises and Warner Bros. films (all for the same price as HBO on its own). Apple Channels, where users can sign up for third-party services such as CBS All Access and Starz using their Apple ID, at least allows users to consolidate their payments to a single company, but it doesn’t provide discounts for doing so. For cable giants Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., negotiating with programmers to structure discounted streaming-app bundles would be a natural evolution of their businesses.So much of the focus of the streaming wars has been on trying to pick the winner, or who will be the true Netflix killer. In fact, Netflix and Disney may control 60% of the U.S. streaming-video market by 2024, according to Geetha Ranganathan, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. Most people wouldn’t want to see the streaming marketplace go the way of the box office — where Disney’s Marvel movies and animated features are the overwhelming majority. (And Netflix isn’t exactly known for the highest-quality menu.) Bundles that include broader arrays of content from different sources offer a better shot at sustained competition, and that sounds awfully better than a world in which all Hollywood’s creative decisions rest in the hands of just a few giants.It’s time to bundle up.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Google launched “Project Nightingale” last year with Ascension, a large health care system, to collect data over 21 states and Washington D.C. Neither patients nor doctors were notified about the partnership. Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi, Alexis Christoforous and Wedbush Securities Dan Ives discuss on The First Trade.
A new Wall Street Journal report suggests Google is stealing the personal health care records of millions of Americans. The tech company teamed with a leading health system to launch "Project Nightingale." CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula has a look at the initiative and CNET editor at large Ian Sherr weighs in on the possible privacy concerns at play.
A new report suggests Google has been secretly collecting the personal health records of millions of Americans. As first reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google is sharing information with Ascension, a health system that includes over 2,600 hospitals and health care centers in 21 states. Dr. Tara Narula reports.