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GOOGLE, Say It Isn't So

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In my March 3rd Blog entitled “Altruism or Exploitation” I wrote about Google’s foray into hosting a PHR. I wondered whether we had given patients a safe place to store and access their personal health information or had we given Google the ability to target users with “information” and ads. Cynically, had Google altruistically begun the process of patient engagement in their own care or had they opened the doors to patient exploitation.

Consumerwatchdog.org today called upon Google to disclose its lobbying positions on the EMR provisions in the stimulus package. Google denies lobbying so I don’t know where the truth lies. Here are a few excerpts from the complaint:

Last week Google wrote that our consumer group's report of a rumored Google lobbying effort on Capitol Hill, reportedly aimed at limiting the current prohibition on the sale of electronic medical records in the economic stimulus bill, was "100 percent false and unfounded." The Google blog appears at: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/01/consumer-watchdog-wrong-on-medical.html

Now an independent journalist has produced other reports of Google's lobbying over the medical privacy provisions of the stimulus legislation. George Lauer , iHealthBeat Features Editor, wrote on January 30 that "[t]wo other privacy advocates and a Congressional staffer who did not want to go on record said they have heard reports of Google representatives contacting Congress members' offices." Lauer's article is available at: http://www.ihealthbeat.org/Features/2009/Stimulus-Package-Brings-Out-Wide-Range-of-Privacy-Opinions.aspx

Lobbying on Capitol Hill is, as you know, a less than transparent enterprise with policy positions advocated orally, with no paper trail. Given Google's adamant denial of the claim that Google lobbied to alter current medical privacy protections, countervailing reports from multiple sources that Google lobbied on these provisions, and your company's outspoken commitment to openness, we ask that Google immediately and publicly disclose its positions with regard to the electronic medical records technology section in the stimulus bill, including any amendments Google sought in the legislation previously or will seek in the Senate. The U.S. Senate, the American public and Google users deserve no less.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879 - 1962), "Discovery", 1964

In my March 3rd Blog entitled “Altruism or Exploitation” I wrote about Google’s foray into hosting a PHR. I wondered whether we had given patients a

Comments

Jim,
Thanks for raising this issue to the awareness level.

I had to laugh out loud when reading the Stefansson quote; thanks for that laugh.

I see the world as getting increasingly complicated by paradoxes. A recent wake up call for me was 'Net Neutrality." The strong, rational arguments for and against just get clearer with additional research.

It seems like "Privacy" and "Transparency" both have paradox deeply baked in as well.