The National Health Service (NHS) of England has come under fire lately amid plans to share patient data with researchers and private companies, and today's revelation will only pile on the privacy concerns. The Guardian reports that extensive patient information from its HES (hospital episode statistics) data has been uploaded to Google servers. Patients' stats -- including their addresses, hospital records and more -- was uploaded to Google's BigQuery analytics tool by management consulting firm PA Consulting.
The fact that sensitive patient data has been uploaded -- to Google servers outside of the European Union, no less -- may be a huge breach in and of itself, but members of Parliament and patient groups are also questioning exactly how much data has been shared. PA Consulting said it produced interactive maps of hospital data, which implies that location info from patients' files was disclosed. And according to The Independent, patient information has been used by marketers to "target ads on social media." Clearly, there are many unanswered questions here, though more details are likely to emerge as the UK's Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC) investigates.