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The consent case between New Scientist and Google’s DeepMind which has been dragging in court for almost a year is about to be wrapped up, the Information Commissioner Office has announced.

While requesting Information Commissioner Office to investigate their observations, New Scientists cited ethical and privacy concerns about the ambiguous deal struck between Royal Free Trust and DeepMind. Royal Free Trust manages three hospitals in London.

New Scientist alleges that under the data sharing agreement between Google’s DeepMind and Royal Free NHS Trust, there were legal concerns which needed interpretation. They contest that the details of the agreement didn’t spell out the scope and the extent to which specific patient data was going to be shared by the Trust.

New Scientist maintain that despite the benefits derived from data sharing between the two entities, more ethical approvals were needed. This is the reason why DeepMind is trying to justify why it has huge piles of patient data. It is very likely that most of these specific patient information were availed without the patient’s approval.

DeepMind is an artificial intelligence company owned by Google. Artificial intelligence cannot function without information. Practically, Google was compelled to sign an agreement with Royal Free NHS Trust, but with some concessions.

In the agreement, all the patient specific data was to flow freely to DeepMind. To draw even more scrutiny, the commercial terms of the agreement is not accessible by the public. In return, DeepMind was  to build an app running on NHS algorithm for the achievement of the overall scope.

Streams was the resultant app. Streams was used extensively by Royal Trust practitioners to collect and feed DeepMind algos. Streams detects and alerts patients with risks of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI).

New Scientist took an issue with this stringent requirement by DeepMind. In the case, they argued that Google overstretched it scope and collected data from patients without risk of kidney injury. They also delved into the procedures followed before Streams was introduced to Royal Free Trust.

Their key argument was if Google had the permission from data regulators. They also wanted to know if they got patient’s approval and if its formation was lawful.

Google on the other hand asserts that DeepMind was just a data synthesizer. For the sake of functionality, they insist that they were using relevant data as spelled out in their agreement with Royal Trust. Full control of patient data remains within Royal Free Trust jurisdiction.


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