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Google Privacy The Internet

Google Will Now Hide Personal Medical Records From Search Results (betanews.com) 34

Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Google has updated its search policies without any sort of fanfare. The search engine now "may remove" -- in addition to existing categories of information -- "confidential, personal medical records of private people" from search results. That such information was not already obscured from search results may well come as something of a surprise to many people. The change has been confirmed by Google, although the company has not issued any form of announcement about it.
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Google Will Now Hide Personal Medical Records From Search Results

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's nice. Now send notices to all the leaks.

  • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @11:26AM (#54675751) Journal

    But do they still index and keep copies of it in house? (I bet real money they do.)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was really sick of my Hep C problems showing up when people I'm dating Googled me.
  • Better Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 ( 1363959 ) <voyager529@@@yahoo...com> on Friday June 23, 2017 @11:30AM (#54675787)

    Better question: Why are such records stored on servers sufficiently accessible that Google can index them in the first place?

    • People end up uploading their own information to public servers without realizing it. Or others, legitimately handling the information may end up not intending to make it public but store it in a location that ends up being insecure. This move by Google just sweeps it under the rug-- if it's publicly accessible, hiding it from search results doesn't make it suddenly inaccessible, it just means you can't use Google to find it. Only Google would think that makes it hard to find. If it's personal healt
    • Better question: Why are such records stored on servers sufficiently accessible that Google can index them in the first place?

      Because there are no penalties for shitty security.

      • Re:Better Question (Score:4, Interesting)

        by clodney ( 778910 ) on Friday June 23, 2017 @12:46PM (#54676327)

        Better question: Why are such records stored on servers sufficiently accessible that Google can index them in the first place?

        Because there are no penalties for shitty security.

        Maybe, maybe not. In the USA, the HIPAA acts governs how medical providers and affiliates are required to deal with PHI (protected health information). There are indeed significant penalties associated with disclosure of PHI, and there is no exemption for malware or other bad actors. Even more alarming for the healthcare industry, HIPAA includes *personal* liability, not just corporate liability (http://managedhealthcareexecutive.modernmedicine.com/managed-healthcare-executive/content/tags/hipaa/hipaa-rule-makes-you-personally-liable), so PHI security is taken very seriously.

        But HIPAA doesn't govern what I can do with my own medical records - if I want to post them on a publicly accessible website that is just fine. And since records are required as input to all sorts of medical research and software development projects, anonymized and pseudonymized data is everywhere. I have personally seen CT studies claiming to be for Frodo Baggins, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Daffy Duck. Those are not PHI and are not an issue under HIPAA, but I don't know whether or not Google would be smart enough to recognize these as not actual medical records.

  • Specifically, a pay-per-use search engine that only indexes personal medical records. Want to deny coverage? Want to reject a job applicant? Want to filter your next Tinder date? MediSnoop them!
  • Do they also try to contact the webmaster and warn them that all their HIPA data is web accessible?
  • Medical service providers don't store personal medical records where web crawlers can access them.

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