Back in 2017, Google was to release 100,000 images of human chest X-rays but two days earlier, the National Institutes of Health, the company that provided the data informed Google that some of the X-rays might have sensitive data that can lead back to the individuals and thus create potential privacy and legal violation.
In a revelation made by The Washington Post who has allegedly seen the emails and interviewed a person familiar with the issue who wished to be anonymous, google abruptly cancelled the project with NIH.
The Google researchers had allegedly obtained no legal agreements regarding the privacy of patients as the company was in a rush to publicise their new project. The emails about Google's NIH project were part of records obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.
This week, Google announced its partnership with the health-care provider Ascension to collect and store personal data for millions of patients, including full names, dates of birth and clinical histories, in order to make smarter recommendations to physicians. The announcement soon had people questioning privacy laws as there was no surety as to whether the patients had agreed to share data or not.
"We take great care to protect patient data and ensure that personal information remains private and secure," said Google spokesman Michael Moeschler in regard to the NIH project. "Out of an abundance of caution, and in the interest of protecting personal privacy, we elected to not host the NIH dataset. We deleted all images from our internal systems and did not pursue further work with NIH."