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Google’s Rude Health

Alex Christie

5 September 2008

This morning my ‘big brother’ paranoia about large corporations using my personal details to boost their profits and power has me in conspiracy theory mode.

Google Health, a service by our favourite search engine that enables you to upload your medical history and learn about your condition, how medication might interact and help in finding a doctor or hospital, looks like it is to be hooked up with details held by a company called 32AndMe.

32AndMe is a web-based genetics research firm, founded by Anne Wojcicki (the wife of Google founder Sergei Brin) which maps and stores genetic data, has received $4 million of investment from Google.

23AndMe’s privacy policy states that users’ information won’t be shared, but continues worryingly that the firm may enter into "partnerships with commercial and/or non-profit organisations that conduct scientific and/or medical research".

Google CEO Eric Schmidt would not go into detail, but said that the investment would benefit Google. Exactly Mr. Schmidt – what about the benefits to us, your users?!!

My fear is that if Google combines the immense amounts of user data they currently collect with the health and medical data that they will gather from Google Health… and blends that with data potentially available to them through 23AndMe, then a person’s Google profile will leave little to the imagination.

I imagine my paranoia will have the men in white coats after me soon – perhaps Google Health can help!

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