Google was allegedly collecting millions of Americans' healthcare data

Google launched

Google is working on a top secret project to gathers millions of Americans' health data

Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Google's development of this initiative began a year ago with a partnership with the St. Louis-based health system Ascension, the second-largest company of its kind in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the company has teamed up with Ascension, the second largest healthcare services company in the country, for a project that is being code-named Nightingale.

It will gather patients' test results, diagnoses and hospitalizations to give them a full digital health history.

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Google has quietly launched a project with one of the nation's largest nonprofit health systems in which it has gained access to millions of patient records, including names and birth dates, to help deliver more targeted medical treatment.

Google claims its program, nicknamed 'Project Nightingale, ' is entirely legal under federal law and wholly compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (or HIPAA), the marquee legislation dealing with health care data.

Neither patients nor doctors have been notified.

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Its goal will be to 'zero in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care'. Ascension has not commented. Staffers across Alphabet Inc., Google's parent, have access to the patient information, documents show, including some employees of Google Brain, a research science division credited with some of the company's biggest breakthroughs.

HIPAA rules allow hospitals to share data with business partners without telling patients, as long as the information is used "only to help the covered entity carry out its health-care functions", according to the Journal.

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