back to article Google swallows up DeepMind Health and abolishes 'independent board'

Google has placed itself at the heart of Britain’s National Health Service by absorbing its wholly owned DeepMind Health unit into the Chocolate Factory - data and all. It has also scrapped the unit’s “independent review panel”. Google acquired DeepMind, an attention-grabbing UK software company founded by former games …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anything involving IT, the NHS and Government is always destined to end in tears. The Government was involved because it green lit the whole thing.

    Anyhow, could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > NHS and Government is always destined to end in tears

      No. This only affects the little people. So who cares?

      Yours very truly, Pom Pous.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >No. This only affects the little people.

        It's outrageous that leprechauns and Lilliputians are treated in this way.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          "It's outrageous that leprechauns and Lilliputians are treated in this way"

          You are forgetting the Elves; it is, after all called the elf service!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

      How are Facebook worse than Google? Indistinguishable cunt bunches the lot of them....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

        >How are Facebook worse than Google? Indistinguishable cunt bunches the lot of them....

        Or the less of two weevils.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Or the less of two weevils.

          Or choosing to get hit with the lesser of two anvils

      2. tfb Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

        Facebook are less bad than Google. They're less bad because everyone knows they're evil whereas a lot of people still fool themselves that Google are the good guys.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

          Google are good guys. They don't hide behind confusing privacy policies (Microsoft), just do what they want regardless of what they say (Facebook) or rely on brainwashed idiots that ignore concerning words in privacy policies (Apple).

          The deal is very clearly laid out with Google, and they honour it. They offer significant return in exchange for anonymized data.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

            "Google are good guys."

            I could not disagree more. Google is the direct opposite of being good guys.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Always look on the Bright Side of Life

              Their forthcoming GDPR fine will probably pay off the entire UK deficit.

          2. RyokuMas Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

            "Google are good guys. They don't hide behind confusing privacy policies (Microsoft)"

            I'll just leave this here:

            Google still fails to tell users where they can actually turn off location tracking and storing for Maps and Search.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind.

          Google are the good guys.

          It's right there in the name GOOd Guys gargLE,

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Big Brother

      worse as Facebook

      I'll agree Facebook is bad and ought to be shutdown. Surely Google is worse?

      Also it should be illegal for ANY business or State Broadcaster to advertise the existence of social media and to insist the customers / public use it to interact with them?

      No, I'm not going to Like you on Facebook, nor follow on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

      Google is FAR more insidious and powerful than Facebook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: worse as Facebook

        I would disagree. I deleted data on a. Google account, and it was actually deleted, there is no way to delete data one Facebook, only close an account. If you open a Facebook account years later, they magically know your connections from IP addresses they harvested years before.

        Google have a comprehensive takeout system to gets your data anytime you wish, and offer proper deletion, and are safe in the knowledge that few will use it, as they offer ALOT in return, in exchange for a clear and concise data deal.

        Facebook offer what exactly for their obscene levels of data harvesting? The ability to discover what your parents had for breakfast....

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: worse as Facebook

          "I deleted data on a. Google account, and it was actually deleted"

          First, how do you know? Second, that doesn't help with all the data the Google collects on us outside of a Google account, nor does it help with Google's non-internet spying (such as all that brick-and-mortar credit card usage information). Third, deleting that information does not stop Google's data slurping.

          All in all, the ability to delete the data associated with a Google account is nice, but very weak sauce. It in no way is enough to put them on a higher road than Facebook.

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Anyhow, could have been worse as Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind."

      I'm not sure that's worse. Equally bad, sure...

    5. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Facepalm

      FB is optional...

      "...could have been worse... Facebook was looking to buy DeepMind

      The thing about Farcebook is that you don't have to create an account with them to do anything apart from use Facebook. Okay, so their tracking and "like" begging-buttons are all over the web, but judicious use of blocking software soon takes care of that.

      Whereas when you fire up your brand new (non-Microsoft) browser for the first time, what's the default search engine?

      And then there's Android, where you've got almost no hope of blocking Google's spyware unless you're willing to jump through numerous hoops...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shocked

    I’m shocked at this, who would have ever thought such a thing would happen..... oh that’s right, everyone with a modicum of common sense.

    1. A.P. Veening

      Common sense

      The problem with common sense is that sense never ain't common - Lazarus Long

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Sanitary pads ...

    so how many NHS patients have have had their info used by google in spaffing them with ads for medical kit, etc ?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be worried, very worried

    That Google has probably got all that extra data on you. Data that clearly it should not have access to in a gazillion years.

    Google is Evil and they are probably coming for me, you and everyone to assimilate into their Borg.

    F**k Google and everything the stand for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Be worried, very worried

      Indeed. As people used to say, "There ought to be a law..."

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Be worried, very worried

        "There ought to be a law..."

        There is. Let's see it used.

    2. RunawayLoop

      Re: Be worried, very worried

      "Google is Evil and they are probably coming for me, you and everyone to assimilate into their Borg."

      If google were like the borg from star trek I probably wouldn't mind, but google is far worse than the borg ever were

  5. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Confirmation if ever there was need of it...

    Confirmation if ever there was need of it that the NHS should be banned from using any form of cloud storage, whether the data sent there is pre-encrypted or not.

    I'm confident that the Dept. of Health will be drafting the memo as I write.

    (Not)

  6. steelpillow Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Googly

    I am told that Google has an aren't-we-nice subculture which describes itself as "goolgy". Something unethical, ugly or stupid may earn the criticism "that's not very googly".

    I should like to remind the world at large that in the game of cricket there are some strong parallels. Not only is unethical conduct deemed to be "just not cricket, old bean", but a googly is the delivery of a ball so that it breaks (bounces) first to one side and then the other, thus pursuing a zig-zag path which confuses and defeats the defender.

    The acquisition of NHS patient data through DeepMind appears to be just such a googly, though delivered in circumstances which are very far from being so. It is just not cricket.

    1. Cosmic Parsnip

      Re: Googly

      A cricket ball would have to bounce twice in order to do what you suggest :-)

      The truth of a Googly in cricket is probably more in line with Google's deception over DeepMind.

      A Googly in cricket is a ball delivered by the bowler that, on the face of it, looks to be something else. It deceives the batsman into believing the ball is going to spin one way only for it to spin in the opposite direction.

  7. John Mangan

    Much fuss about nothing

    This is a perfectly understandable mis-match in communication.

    When Google said 'never' they meant until they had forgotten about it - about six months.

    This is the same as any tech companies use of 'unlimited' meaning until it becomes burdensome.

    I'm sure long-time readers can complete the lexicon for themselves.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm.

    In any sensible version of reality, we could use this to GDPR Google into the smoking, lifeless crater it clearly deserves.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Hmm.

      any sensible one - seen one lately?

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Hmm.

        Not yet, but I think that's merely due to the large number of contenders for the honour of being made an example under GDPR.

        Given Trump's attitude to collaboration, my money has been on a US company for quite a while.

  9. Jemma Silver badge

    What a fucking surprise..

    And bloody ironic since my GP surgery signage system burps up a "We don't sell your information" scam warning ever 30 seconds.

    THIS is why I didn't sign up for the NHS information sharing a while back and told them in no uncertain terms to get thyselves @#&*ed dear NHS and a load of you lot downvoted me for it.

    My medical details are MY medical details - and if I want to sell them that's MY right. And I can tell you for nothing that ain't happening with an American company while the Redneck Retardistani is in office.

    The NHS needs to legally guarantee that health information, especially for groups that are protected under the UK law, will NOT be spaffed to an Inbredistani company that has shown bigotry and a total disregard for the mental health of its employees - not to mention being involved in *any* way with the present or future incumbent resident of 1600 Pen Ave.

    I am going to say I told you so because I did and got tirades of abuse for it. Many people could see where this would end up and guess what - it has arrived exactly where we said - I'm surprised it took this long tbh.

    Google should be kicked out of the health service on the spot including for search on any NHS owned hardware (which is actually quite easy) for breach of contract. Data thievery for monetary benefit has no place in this country. Do what you like in Inbredistan, Google & Facebook et al, but don't try it here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a fucking surprise..

      >THIS is why I didn't sign up for the NHS information sharing a while back and told them in no uncertain terms to get thyselves @#&*ed dear NHS and a load of you lot downvoted me for it.

      It is unclear if the down votes are because they didn't like you or because they didn't like the truth you told. Only rarely is a counter argument made.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: What a fucking surprise..

        If I remember the post correctly it was on the story about the NHS using patient medical data to perform medical studies into more effective treatments.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: What a fucking surprise..

          But it's true!

          The NHS hospitals gave the data to Google. So they may be correct in saying your GP won't sell your data. Your CCG or NHS Trust might, or they may give it away though, or it's a certainty that Google will be looking to commercially exploit the data they've already obtained.

          Question remains why this keeps happening. Perhaps there's a naivety that data won't be commercially exploited, or if no money changes hands, it's somehow ethicial. If so, then perhaps those Trusts shouldn't be trusted with our data.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Trilkhai

      @Jemma

      I agree with you, but have to point out that Inbredistan is a very different part of the US than California...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a fucking surprise..

      And bloody ironic since my GP surgery signage system burps up a "We don't sell your information" scam warning ever 30 seconds.

      Believe it or not, that is actually true. It's worse: they just give it away..

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is watching you 24/7

    Never trust any of Google's promises, they are proven liars. They believe they are above governments and the rule of law and can get away with anything they want.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Google is watching you 24/7

      And experience shows that, at least in the US, they are correct in that assumption

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's already there

    The Government has already moved a good chunk of your data to Google. Where do you think most of the UK central government email system lives?

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: It's already there

      Where do you think most of the UK central government email system lives?

      Office 365 every time I have to go scouring SMTP sessions...

    2. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: It's already there

      Where do you think most of the UK central government email system lives?

      And a lot of their documents/data seem to live on Amazon's cloud. I'm sure that's fine...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets hope

    that nobody you care about ever dies from a disease that could have been cured by big data analysis of anonymised data.

    This is a HUGE win for medical industry, finding ways of early diagnosis and preventative health.

    Don't let small minded idiots and clickbaiters tell you otherwise.

    1. doublelayer

      Re: Lets hope

      I don't think the disapproval is specifically about machine learning being used on health data; that's been done on anonymized data for years by academic and industry researchers, and is likely to continue. I believe the complaint is about google, which has not before proven itself knowledgable about health, as this isn't much related to their standard business model, but has proven itself to not be great at keeping any data private, even data that citizens and governments believe should be more private than usual.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lets hope

        "but has proven itself to not be great at keeping any data private"

        Please cite...

        1. doublelayer

          Re: Lets hope

          Citation: just look at any time when they collected data without being above board on informing the people whose data was collected. Which is pretty much every time they collected something. Just because you may be fine with google having the information you know they have doesn't mean that others are. If google collected information on people and they didn't want it to happen, that is sufficient evidence for those people to be worried about google getting access to health data.

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Lets hope

      My partner did die from a disease that could already be cured by "big data analysis" after she'd told them AGAIN and AGAIN that she was at high risk of having that precise condition.

      What do you know. It started when she was 14,it took her a YEAR AND A HALF for fuckwit NHS doctors to listen by which time it had already started to spread - it came back when she was 17, at which point the consultant told her to "fuck off home and die because we need the bed" and she died riddled on her 22nd birthday.

      If you haven't worked it out already - HPV mediated cervical cancer as a result of abuse.

      DO NOT accuse me of click baiting or being pessimistic about the NHS - there is not one situation in my entire 43 years of life regarding my own health or the health of people I care about where the No Hope Service haven't fucked up comprehensively.

      My medical information is protected BY LAW because of my particular circumstances. Even UK government agencies have to ask for permission specifically on each & every occasion to access it. I do not want that detailed information - even if it is "anonymised" *to make a hollow laughing* anywhere near Google because if that information gets into the wrong hands it has been used as an excuse for murder, medical negligence leading to death, and worse.

      Look up a girl called Tempest Smith, all she did was be of the wrong religion in a "civilised country" - we aren't talking Saudi or the UAE. Imagine what happens if the US government makes homosexuality illegal and every single person has put down on NHS forms their sexuality, or next of kin as their gay partner - or even what health conditions you may have.. Travel to the US to visit family - Google picks that up, finds out you're an uphill gardener or carpeteer - notifies the airport cops and you don't even get a foot off the plane... And it might just be a best guess on googles part and totally wrong. Good luck with getting any support from the UK government if Smeagol Gove or Boris Baggins is Prime Minister - Rees-Borgia would probably ask them to hurry up and execute you, and probably lend them a Lee Enfield SMLE and ammo just in case they were short (government cuts, y'all).

      The data isn't the problem. The data is extremely useful for collating patterns and formulating theories and treatments and I would have zero problem if that's *all* it'd be used for, guaranteed. But that isn't the case and if you think it is you're either deranged or brain dead. Inbredistani companies have one rule and one alone - profit - it doesn't matter who gets hurt or what ecosystem is destroyed or what laws are ignored or broken - profit rules anyway anyhow.

      And you seriously think that NHS senior managers and UK health ministers (who'd generally need six months intensive training just to wipe their own backsides successfully) have any hope of properly distributing and protecting this data? Don't make me laugh.

      And the best part? Even when there is a cure for a serious illness the NHS will usually find a way to avoid providing it until it's too late, or doing a half assed job riddled with paperwork so that the actual chance of getting the treatment is about the same as Donnie Dickwit having an intelligent thought. The only department of the organisation that seems in my personal experience to be successful is the legal department, abrogation of patient murder and mistreatment, for the use of.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lets hope

      "Don't let small minded idiots and clickbaiters tell you otherwise."

      If it's all open and above board why has oversight been cancelled?

  13. iron Silver badge

    Britain’s National Health Service?

    > Google has placed itself at the heart of Britain’s National Health Service

    Has it really? All I can find are articles about some London trusts working with DeepMind which barely qualifies as NHS England & Wales and definitely does not include Scotland. There is no such thing as Britain's NHS - NHS Scotland is separate to England & Wales and always has been. As usual El Reg ignores that and writes an article that at best tells me nothing and at worst misleads me into thinking NHS England policies may apply to me.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those that accidentally sat on a cucumber while hoovering naked and required hospital treatment suddenly find their browsing and inbox inundated with adverts for butt plugs then you know who to blame.

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      It might not be Google..

      Maybe Alexa has a new "howl recognition" feature..

      Can just imagine clippy...

      "it looks like you're trying BDSM impalement play. Would you like some help with that?"

      Incidentally they're trying to get Amazon Alexa data from a murder scene - paired phones, conversations in range of the speakers etc. So that's not creepy at all - even without activating my Inner Vimes my cynicometer is going off register, what's the betting the sound of women being murdered on Alexa will turn up on the Web...

      1. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: It might not be Google..

        Makes you wonder why Alexa and Google Home are the shape they are. (I haven't seen them in person, so I don't know how wide they are.)

        But I can imagine them starting to fuck you in the arse as soon as you get them home and switch them on.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Likewise, you know who to blame if you are treated for cancer, severe depression, etc., and find yourself no longer employable.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brexit

    All they have to do is hang on to the data until the UK can sign a unilateral trade agreement with the USA. An agreement that will no doubt include the wholesale transfer of our data to giant US corporations, the privitaisation of the NHS health style and the only stuff coming back will be chlorinated chickens and injected beef.

    My partner died because an nhs cunt registrar couldn't be bothered to read or follow published guidelines from NICE and thought the (correct) opinion of a GPs was worthless. The fact that Google thinks it'll produce better info doesn't matter a shit when registrars still have a god complex and belive they are infallible.

    So Google steals the data, spams us all medically to death, sells our details to insurers then any info it does produce will probably get ignored by GPs. Fuckin great eh.

  16. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Put and end to expansion by acquisition

    The global economy is infested by ever expanding corporate conglomerates. Conglomerates, per se, are inimical to market-capitalism as it was once understood. Conglomeration diminishes competition and leads toward monopoly and/or monopsony powers.

    Expansion by managed growth of market share is fine so long as it's not permitted to go too far. Similarly, branching out into another market closely related to that from which a business started (i.e. from a core of expertise, motivation, and experience) need not be detrimental to an overall competitive market. However, expansion by acquisition of solvent companies which in other circumstances could be competitors is wholly against the spirit of market-capitalism.

    Apart from the Google instance mentioned here another recent example was Coca Cola acquiring the successful UK Costa Coffee chain. Setting aside aesthetic considerations and worries over whether the Coca Cola Corporation is fit to vend any sort of beverage, that take-over leaves a nasty taste.

    Google's starting point was Internet advertising and required developing considerable expertise in computer technology. Google's main business modality remains thus and has been enhanced, from Google's point of view, by widespread take-up of Google's pseudo-open-source Linux variant by phone manufacturers. Google's implementation of Android is a privacy-sapping marketing tool sitting on devices that happen also to enable phone calls.

    Google, seemingly, wants to expand into the health information business. That may or may not make sense from Google's point of view. Yet, societal interest is firmly that Google must do so by legitimate competitive expansion rather than acquisition.

    Conglomeration and/or global near-monopoly are evils in their own right. They are evident in the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. Moreover, distributors of broader cultural output in news, film, TV shows, and music, increasingly are conglomerates of erstwhile production and distribution companies. In the field of physical products, Bayer, now proud owner of the can of legal worms once known as Monsanto, is a conglomerate of monstrous, and dangerously so, proportions.

    The root motivator for all this is Ayn Rand compatible neo-liberalism. Consequent globalisation has enabled multinational corporate interests to, in effect, dictate their own terms to nation states. Bribes and promises via lobbyists to members of legislatures and governments aid this continuing process. Little do the corrupted, those accepting such boons, realise their true position as inconsequential nobodies in the grand schemes of others; neither they nor their families shall have a special place within neo-feudalism.

    Google's position in the UK NHS may have been promoted, at least welcomed, by dark interests in, or associated with, government, these intent on furthering neo-liberal intentions of privatisation now made more likely by Brexit.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when will the prosecutions begin?

    About time we started seeing people being held to account, starting with the people who actually decided to hand-over NHS data to google.

  18. Crisp Silver badge

    Even though I opted out

    What are the odds that my entire medical history is sitting on one of Googles servers somewhere?

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: Even though I opted out

      Same here - it's probably got a flag in a column labelled "UNCOOPERATIVE" with a value "Y". I'm sure that won't be open to abuse.

  19. southen bastard

    there is a good side

    at least all the advertising for life insurance ans medical insurance has stopped, since they got w my medical records i'm guessing

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