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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Big Tech, already under a withering spotlight from Congress for mishandling some user data, is elbowing further into health care — a world defined by its privacy pitfalls.

Why it matters: Giant companies have earned regulatory wrist-slaps for fumbling sensitive personal information, but the stakes are much higher for poorly protected health data.

What's happening: Recent moves, some unfolding in secret, show the reach of the companies' ambition — and, in some cases, their lack of preparation for the minefields.

  • Last week, the WSJ broke news of an agreement between Google and Ascension, the second-largest health care system in the country, that gave Google access to data from 50 million patients without informing them. The government is investigating the system's privacy protections.
  • On Friday, WaPo reported that Google had pulled the plug on a project with the National Institutes of Health in 2017 when NIH warned that the 100,000 X-ray images it was about to publish could identify the patients.
  • Apple, which has put health at the center of its products, announced three new research studies for Apple Watch owners — one of which aims to enroll a million women, monitoring them as they go about their daily lives. Doctors say it's still unclear how useful these large-scale studies are.

The big picture: Med tech is a hugely lucrative and fast-growing field, but it's been plagued by setbacks driven in part by a mismatch between can-do engineers and a more deliberate clinical culture.

The bottom line, from Axios' Caitlin Owens: "These companies are entering the health care world because it's clearly a profit bonanza and they want a piece of that money pie."

Go deeper: Americans have big hopes that Big Tech can improve health care

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.