Big data

Google, Ascension analyzing data without patients' knowledge

Google's multi-color logo with lights shining underneath it.
Google and Ascension are calling it "health care transformation." Photo: Lyu Liang/VCG via Getty Images

Not-for-profit hospital system Ascension has allowed Google to access a wide array of patient data, including names and diagnoses, but did not notify patients or doctors about their secret data project until the Wall Street Journal reported the story today.

Why it matters: This exchange of sensitive medical information is technically legal under federal law that protects patient health information, as long as Google is contracted as a "business associate" with Ascension.

Go deeper: What your hospital knows about you

The global shortage of privacy experts

Illustration of a padlock with only zeros on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's more important than ever for companies to have privacy experts, to help them obey proliferating laws on how consumers' data can be used — but it's hard to find people with the expertise to do it.

Why it matters: Privacy is a once-and-future battleground. Without more qualified professionals, everyone’s sensitive information could fall vulnerable to corporate ignorance, mismanagement and whim.