Google Launches Verily

Google wants more of your health care and sensitive data. Google has launched Project Baseline by Verily to help direct anyone affected to appropriate medical services and up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Data privacy experts and watchdogs have voiced their criticisms on Google’s intent with the data and why people should avoid using this service if it requires a Google account’s personal info. 

Why you should hesitate: They’ve acquired multiple companies over the past year including their purchase of Fitbit for $2.1billion giving them access to a lot of people’s personal wellness data as well as their habits. People are concerned about being forced to share personal data to access the program. In an interview with AdAge, Ana Milicevic, principal and co-founder of Sparrow Advisors, a digital consulting firm, said the coronavirus site could collect sensitive personal information that could later be used in ways participants never intended. 

The data collected never disappears or dissipates, once the COVID-19 epidemic is dealt with then what happens to the data collected? The fear is that individuals who sign up via Verily would pass on private medical data that would be attached to their Google accounts. Verily’s terms of service also state that it does not use any of the data for advertising purposes, but Google does not state what they would do with the data once the world recovers. Watchdogs have warned that they believe this is a data-mining scandal being covered up by the current pandemic.

What Verily Says on their Website: Google’s terms of service for the special health project, promise that no data will be shared with insurance companies or applied to advertising. Google is working with U.S. public health officials to design web-based tools that can help with the coronavirus pandemic. The Verily site guides people through a questionnaire that tells them whether they are eligible for testing and where to get tested. Right now the site is limited and is currently only available to help people living in the Bay Area(Northern San Francisco) in California.

On their website Verily states, “The information you provide may also be shared with the health care professionals who collect your specimen, the clinical laboratory that processes your specimen, the California Department of Public Health, and potentially other federal, state, and local health authorities, and other entities that assist with the testing program”.

So unless you are currently residing in the Bay Area we recommend not signing up and still being weary of companies trying to take your data! Especially now that people are home and not in work environments, data collecting companies are looking to collect as much info as possible during this hectic situation. Stay inside, wash your hands, and stay smart when it comes to companies asking for your information!