Google, University of Chicago HIPAA lawsuit shows next battleground

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, speaks to the media before the opening of the Berlin representation of Google Germany in Berlin on January 22, 2019.

Carsten Koall | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A new lawsuit against Google and the University of Chicago Medical Center alleges that researchers did not strip out date stamps or doctor’s notes buried within hundreds of thousands of patient medical records, and that this information could be used to identify a patient.

The lawsuit shows a major challenge for Google and other large technology companies marching into health care. These companies are facing looming regulation from Washington and increased scrutiny about whether the proper steps have been taken to safeguard data, especially in how the company allows third-party marketers to target users with ads. It also faced an outcry when a U.K. government privacy watchdog said a hospital had illegally sent 1.6 million records to Google DeepMind for a new health care app.

In the wake of that, the company recently hired a health system executive, David Feinberg, to streamline its health efforts and create more unity among the various teams. Since Feinberg’s hiring, several units have…

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