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16 May 2022

Alexander Martin, Sky News (UK)

UK: Google sued over use of confidential medical NHS data of 1.6 million people without their knowledge or consent

"Google sued for using the NHS data of 1.6 million Britons 'without their knowledge or consent'", 16 May 2022

Google is being sued over its use of confidential medical records belonging to 1.6 million individuals in the UK.

The company's artificial intelligence arm, DeepMind, received the data in 2015 from the Royal Free NHS Trust in London for the purpose of testing a smartphone app called Streams.

The claim is being brought by Andrew Prismall in a representative action in the High Court. It alleges that Google and DeepMind "obtained and used a substantial number of confidential medical records without patients' knowledge or consent".

Google received data belonging to 1.6 million patients, some of whom had simply attended A&E within the last five years, in order to test a smartphone app which could detect acute kidney injuries.

The smartphone app - which is designed to address the 25% of preventable deaths from acute kidney injuries if they were detected early enough - was subsequently used by the Royal Free NHS Trust on a discount basis...

The deal was subsequently found to be illegal by the UK's privacy watchdog which decided not to issue a fine to Royal Free, explaining there was a lack of guidance for the sector...

Ben Lasserson, partner at Mishcon de Reya, the law firm representing Mr Prismall, said the claim was "particularly important".

"It should provide some much-needed clarity as to the proper parameters in which technology companies can be allowed to access and make use of private health information," he added.

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately respond to a Sky News request for comment...