Another Data Breach and DACA

Grind for November 18th
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

Not Again

The Headline

Google secretly accessed millions of personal health records

The Grind

Tech giant Google has acknowledged to the Wall Street Journal, it secretly accessed tens of millions of individual health records of patients in 21 states.

The data includes personal and private health information, including lab results, doctor diagnoses, and hospitalization records, as well as other categories.

According to the WSJ, Google has partnered with Ascension the country’s second-largest health system, based in St. Louis. The giant Catholic health care provider operates across 21 states including the District of Columbia, and bills itself as “a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care.”

Google is reportedly using data from the system to design new software dubbed “Project Nightingale” that tailors individual patient care using “advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

The Details

However as virtuous as this endeavor seems, the fact that neither patients nor doctors were notified by either Google or Ascension, is without a doubt a serious breach of trust. Even more disturbing the WSJ has confirmed from an anonymous source that at least 150 Google employees already have gained access to “much of the data on tens of millions of patients.”

Even more worrisome, according to privacy experts Google’s actions appear to be legal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

In that 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.”

A Google spokeswoman acknowledged that the tech company is fully compliant with federal health law and includes “robust protections” of patient data.

Regardless of whether Google is in “compliance” with some government health law, accessing someone’s personal health records without that individual’s permission or knowledge is fundamentally wrong.

Thankfully privacy advocates along with thousands of patients are fighting back with a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the tech giant of inappropriately accessing sensitive medical records belonging to hundreds of thousands of hospital patients.

While this latest foray by Google secretly accessing medical records of millions of individuals under the guise of creating new and advanced software for the benefit of patients, the underline objective is accessing personal data to be used as a commodity.

In recent years, tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have all attempted to sell their tech services to medical institutions, promising that they can help organize medical data and use this information to develop new AI diagnostic tools; however those services all come at the expense of privacy concerns.

The recent class-action lawsuit first reported by The New York Times concerning a 2017 deal between Google and the University Of Chicago Medical Center, giving access to thousands of medical records without the knowledge of patients between 2009 and 2016, is simply the latest breach of trust between Google, healthcare providers and unsuspecting patients.

Just recently Google was fined between $150 and $200 million dollars to resolve a Federal Trade Commission privacy violation concerning children’s privacy laws, according to a report.

Say What?

The Headline

Mexico Urging USSC to Uphold “Unconstitutional” DACA Program

The Grind

Mexico has apparently decided to weigh in on the unconstitutional DACA program, instituted by former President Obama, by filing an amicus, aka a “friend of the court” brief urging “OUR” Supreme Court to stop President Trump from exercising his constitutional mandate to rescind the executive order (not a law enacted by Congress) by the previous administration.

According to the World Justice Project’s 2019 “Rule of Law” Index, Mexico is more corrupt then Venezuela and more dangerous then Honduras, and it’s level of access to justice for its citizens, is lower than Nicaragua.

In fact, according to the index, Mexico is ranked 99 out of 126 countries which “measure how the rule of law is experienced and perceived by the general public in countries and jurisdictions worldwide based on more than 120,000 households and 3,800 expert surveys,” according to the World Justice Project’s website.

The Details

Mexican officials state protecting and supporting DACA recipients is an important goal of Mexican foreign policy.

“Mexico’s government has supported DACA beneficiaries and Mexican nationals living in the United States by holding clinics, providing funding and access to competent legal counsel in connection to the application process under DACA,” the brief reads. It goes on to note that Mexican consular officials have assisted approximately 30,000 DACA recipients with “obtaining the necessary documents and, in some cases, providing economic assistance to apply for DACA.”

It went on to warn the program’s cancellation would diminish Social Security contributions, national GDP, and cultural ties between the U.S. and Mexico of the sort embodied in the “Dreamers without Borders” program, an educational exchange initiative that allows DACA recipients to visit Mexican universities for studies and networking. Without DACA, so-called “Dreamers” are ineligible to apply for student visas.

According to a 2016 study by the Virginia Law Review, conducted by Professor Kristen Eichensehr, between 1978 to 2013 foreign governments filed 68 amicus briefs in the Supreme Court expounding their views on legal issues, few have ever influenced the court.

Did you know… No high jumper has ever been able to stay off the ground for more than one second.