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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday it is investigating the data-sharing relationship between Google and not-for-profit hospital system Ascension.

Why it matters: Per Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman, exchanging patients’ health information is legal under federal privacy law, and this data sharing is common, even when patients aren’t aware. The government is making sure Google is contracted as a "'business associate" with Ascension.

What they're saying: Office director Roger Severino said in a statement to the WSJ that the federal regulator "will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented."

The other side: Following the announcement, Google updated its blog on its partnership with Ascension with the additional FAQ "Do Google employees have access to Protected Health Information (PHI)? If so, why?"

  • "A limited number of Google employees have been approved by Ascension to potentially handle PHI, in order to provide the services to Ascension," the FAQ answer states.
"Because every health system is different, and the data is very complex and non-standardized, we need to configure and tune our processing systems to ensure correct product operations and patient safety."
— Google statement

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Google.

Go deeper: What your hospital knows about you

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.