Google shares fall amid privacy concerns, as Streams app becomes part of tech giant

Google shares fall amid privacy concerns, as Streams app becomes part of tech giant
Written by:
Ilona Billington
15th November 2018

Google shares are lower Thursday, as its UK-based AI expert arm DeepMind, defends a decision where it’s UK health app, Streams, will formally become part of Google. Streams has previously come under fire as it used swathes of private UK NHS patient data as it worked with hospitals, without the necessary permissions.

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By 1555 BST, Google shares were 0.50% lower at $1,049.35. The stock has been trending broadly lower in recent weeks.

Google absorbs DeepMind’s health app

DeepMind said that it’s health app Streams, would become part of Google. That will mean the data held on some 1.6 million UK patients, will become the property of the US tech giant.

“We’re excited to announce that the team behind Streams—our mobile app that supports doctors and nurses to deliver faster, better care to patients—will be joining Google,” DeepMind’s co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis said.

“It’s been a phenomenal journey to see Streams go from initial idea to live deployment, and to hear how it’s helped change the lives of patients and the nurses and doctors who treat them,” DeepMind said. “This is a major milestone for DeepMind!,” the AI development expert added.

Arrangement sparks privacy fears

Streams is one of DeepMinds developments that doesn’t use AI. However, that DeepMind has completely passed this clinical task management app onto the hands of Google, will mean that a lot of personal medical data will now be theirs.

Of course, Google abides by data privacy laws. And, since Streams has already been upbraided for its date-related practices, its something that is sure to be closely monitored by both UK and US watchdogs.

However, the deal has induced much comment on the fact that it goes against exactly what DeepMind said it would never do – hand all this data over to Google.

Privacy expert and lawyer, Julia Powell called the development “Totally unacceptable” and described it as “trust demolition” on the part of DeepMind.

Google’s storage and use of the data will no doubt be scrutinised. However, understanding exactly how tech giants handle the data it says is essential to further AI and tech developments, hasn’t proved easy to date and that’s unlikely to change.

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