Google Verily Coronavirus Democratic Senators Data Privacy

projectbaseline.com

When will Google’s testing site be available nationwide? Congress wants to know

The senators have questions about the website's data security.

Apr 1, 2020, 10:24 am

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

A group of Democratic senators on Tuesday questioned an arm of Google’s parent company about data privacy on its coronavirus screening website that directs people in California to nearby testing sites.

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The website—which was prematurely touted by President Donald Trump last month—was created by Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet. The website is currently only open to people within a small group of counties in California.

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The letter, which was signed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), says that the website should not use any data it collects for commercial purposes and asks that Verily state that information collected is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In the letter, the senators also criticize the website for requiring people seeking to screen themselves to create a Google account in order to access it. It is the second letter the senators sent to Verily regarding its data privacy.

“As Verily moves forward with the Baseline COVID-19 Pilot Program and test screening websites in California, it is essential that you address these critical privacy concerns,” the senators wrote.

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The letter asks Verily to answer a number of questions by next week including: if the website is in compliance with HIPAA; if it will allow people to use it without linking to a Google account; which government agencies it is working with; a timeline for a nationwide roll-out of the website; and if it will commit to not using any data collected for commercial purposes and selling data collected to third parties, among other things.

Last week, Apple launched a coronavirus screening website and app for people to check off symptoms and circumstances to see what actions they should take.

The website does not require a log-in or association with an Apple ID. The company said responses are not sent to the government.

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*First Published: Apr 1, 2020, 10:24 am