Last week Google announced that its latest seduction has resulted in the conquest of an NHS Trust comprising the Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals.
1.6 million patients have had their records passed over to Google for ‘research’, apparently into kidney disease.
Behind the mirrors and smokescreen, Google is a publisher whose income comes from selling advertisers access to you and me. Its killer app is that it can already trawl through just about every email you send, because you have said that it can. It knows and remembers each search you make, because you have said that it can. It records each page on which you land and, irrespective of the settings on your browser, Google almost certainly knows more about your online activities than your family, your friends and your government. Now it knows everything about the health history of those 1.6 million souls. Everything.
And when we are told that: “The trust says the data will remain encrypted, meaning that Google employees should not be able to identify anyone” am I the only one alarmed by the use of the word ‘should’?
In an alarming aside Google has said that it has not ruled out using the data for other purposes. What other purposes?
By using pretty beads and baubles, the media giant – which makes the Murdoch empire look like a corner shop – has bemused, befuddled and confused politicians, administrators and citizens into handing over our precious assets. You have to admire the company’s communication skills for dressing up what it does as somehow being for our universal benefit. Rather than admire, better that we should be absolutely terrified at the gullibility of the people whom we have tasked to guard our data from outfits like Google. It even calls the individual health data mining programme ‘Deep Mind’.
How many more clues did the Trust need that handing over patient data is not a good thing?
Two weeks ago, a small group of ordinary people achieved an extraordinary victory.
Through their tenacity, grit, strength and using brutally honest communication, they forced apparently unassailable forces into retreat. The families of those unlawfully killed at Hillsborough showed us that power does reside in the people and that authoritative bodies can only exist if we will them to be and give our consent to their being.
For 27 years those amazing people fought for truth because of the respect that their loved ones deserved then and deserve now. They have brought to life Einstein’s challenging statement: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
Best not to regard Google as a corporate deity. It might believe itself to be a global power and stronger than any single government but it is neither of those things. Look very closely at what it does, how it does it and question why not being evil was quietly dropped from its code of conduct last year.
Ask these questions through all possible means and continue asking until they are answered satisfactorily. Though this might take a lot longer than 27 years, as the Hillsborough Families so brilliantly demonstrated, giving up is not an option.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 10 May