Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are only a few days left in our critical Mid-Year Campaign and we truly might not make it without your help.
Please join us. If you rely on independent media, support Common Dreams today. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Google obtained the health data of millions of Americans, a new report claims.

Google obtained the health data of millions of Americans, a new report claims. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

'When Will Someone Go to Jail?': New Report Shows Google Secretly Storing Health Data of Millions of Americans

According to The Wall Street Journal, neither patients nor doctors have been notified of the data collection and storage.

Eoin Higgins

A "bombshell" new report from The Wall Street Journal describes a secret project from Google and healthcare giant Ascension to store data on millions of Americans, a move that critics of the tech conglomerate decried as another example of overreach.

"When will someone go to jail?" wondered mathematician and musician David C. Lowery. "That would stop this shit real fast."

According to the Journal, Google and Ascension made the decision last year to collect the data across 21 states in an initiative named "Project Nightingale." 

Google in this case is using the data, in part, to design new software, underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, that zeroes in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care. Staffers across Alphabet Inc., Google's parent, have access to the patient information, documents show, including some employees of Google Brain, a research science division credited with some of the company's biggest breakthroughs.

The Journal reported that Nightingale's scope "pertains to lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth."

Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents.

The project is legal under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, though some staffers at Ascension are reportedly concerned over the ethics of the collection.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Lunacy': Democrats Risk Running Out of Time to Confirm Federal Judges

"Democrats aren't filling open seats right now in federal district courts because, for unfathomable reasons, they are letting red state senators block nominees," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·


Citing Death of Roe, Alabama Urges Judge to Reinstate Trans Care Ban

GOP officials are already weaponizing the Supreme Court's abortion ruling to attack other rights they argue are not "deeply rooted in our nation's history and tradition."

Kenny Stancil ·


Flint Residents 'Disgusted' After Court Throws Out Indictments of Top Officials

"It has become increasingly clear that the judicial system is not a viable option for a poor majority Black community facing injustice," said Flint Rising.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sanders, Fetterman Urge Buttigieg to Fine Airlines Over Flight Cancellations

"The American people are sick of airlines ripping them off, canceling flights at the last minute, and delaying flights for hours on end," said the Vermont senator.

Jake Johnson ·


In Blow to Voting Rights, SCOTUS Saves Louisiana's Racially Rigged Electoral Map

"Black Louisianans deserve fair representation. The fight for racial justice and equality is far from over," vowed one civil rights group.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo