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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

In photos: Egypt unveils 3,000-year-old "lost golden city"

A view on Saturday of the city, dubbed "The Rise of Aten," dating to the reign of Amenhotep III, uncovered near Luxor. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images

A top Egyptian archaeologist on Saturday outlined details of a newly rediscovered "lost golden city" near Luxor that dates back more than 3,000 years.

Why it matters: Zahi Hawass told NBC News the large ancient city, unveiled Thursday, tells archaeologists for the first time "about the life of the people during the Golden Age." Johns Hopkins University Egyptology professor Betsy Brian said in a statement it's "the second most important archeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen."

1 dead as severe storms pummel the South

A tree that fell on a home carport damaged a vehicle during a storm in Central, Louisiana. No injuries were reported, according to Central Fire Department. Photo: Central Fire Department/Twitter

Strong storms lashed the South early Saturday, spawning at least one tornado and unleashing powerful winds and hail. And forecasters warned more severe weather was expected to hit parts of the region in the coming hours.

Details: Thousands of customers lost power in Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, according to tracking site poweroutage.us. An F3 tornado that hit St Landry Parish, Louisiana, killed one person and wounded seven others.

Scoop: Biden eyes Russia adviser criticized as soft on Kremlin

Photo: Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images

President Biden is considering appointing Matthew Rojansky, head of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, as Russia director on the National Security Council, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Rojansky has been praised for his scholarship on Russia and is frequently cited in U.S. media for his expert commentary. But his work has drawn criticism — including in a 2018 open letter from Ukrainian alumni of Kennan that blasted the think tank he runs as an "unwitting tool of Russia’s political interference."