|Day's range||0.4500 - 0.4500|
The backlash Google faces in a health deal exposes the lack of knowledge consumers have about the myriad laws that govern their health data, and suspicions about Big Tech.
Roku stock has already recovered from its post-Q3 earnings release selloff after bullish streaming TV investors snatched up a perceived buying opportunity. But the streaming TV stock might have even more room to run...
Lawmakers pressed top U.S. antitrust enforcers on their probes of tech giants Alphabet's Google , Facebook , Amazon and Apple on Wednesday, with the chair of a House subcommittee expressing frustration over the companies' continued acquisitions. In a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said his investigative staff was focused on understanding how personalized advertising transactions work.
(Bloomberg) -- Peloton Interactive Inc., the unprofitable fitness company whose stock has been skidding, plans to introduce two new pieces of workout equipment next year in a further expansion beyond cycling.The company is working on a new treadmill that will cost less than the current $4,000 model, as well as a rowing machine, according to people familiar with their development. Peloton has also explored apps for Amazon.com Inc.’s Fire TV and the Apple Watch to complement its smartphone software, though the status of those projects is unclear, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the information publicly.The new pieces of hardware will likely be the first introductions for the company in at least two years, when the original treadmill debuted. But people familiar with the plans said the release timing could change. Peloton’s stock jumped as much as 9% in intraday trading on the news.Jessica Kleiman, a spokeswoman for Peloton, declined to comment on products in development. “Our R&D team is always working on ideas,” she wrote in an email.In the almost two months since Peloton went public, investors have called for the company to reevaluate its expensive growth ambitions and focus on turning a profit, much like with other technology companies that have gone public this year. Peloton’s initial public offering fell flat, and the stock is down 15% since then. John Foley, the chief executive officer, said on a conference call with analysts last week that management is convinced now is the time to spend on expansion. “If we pull back on growth, we could be profitable tomorrow, but that is not what the board and the leadership at Peloton believe we should do,” he said.Foley helped start Peloton with a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, pitching live and on-demand cycling classes streamed to the home. The main hardware product is a $2,245 stationary bike affixed to an iPad-like device. It has recently expanded to Canada and Germany and is also building fitness studios in New York and London.Peloton now offers a variety of classes, including boot camp-style workouts, meditation and yoga, through apps that don’t require pricey equipment. More than 500,000 people take Peloton classes, which require a membership costing at least $19 a month. The company describes itself as the “largest interactive fitness platform” in the world.Foley has fashioned Peloton as a tech company, which has helped boost its market value to $7 billion today. Executives emphasize user engagement as a key business metric. The company said last week the average user was nearly a dozen workouts on Peloton each month, up from nine in the same period last year. Executives see the addition of new kinds of workouts as a way to increase engagement. In 2018, Peloton introduced its first treadmill at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The bulkiness of the equipment and $4,000 price tag have made it a niche product, though Foley has said he’s happy with sales of the treadmill.To increase sales, Peloton has looked for various ways to make its products more affordable. It offers monthly installment plans on equipment purchases through a startup called Affirm and acquired an engineering firm this year that previously designed devices for Google and Facebook Inc. Foley said in an interview last week that the acquisition would give Peloton cost advantages and potentially speed up production.Foley aspires to create the Apple Inc. of fitness and has taken many cues from the world’s most valuable public company. One of those is product secrecy. During the IPO roadshow, Foley would only answer questions about new products by saying Peloton could have a “better, best” strategy, suggesting it may sell multiple models of bikes or treadmills at different prices. In an interview with Bloomberg TV on the day of the IPO, Foley declined to answer questions about new products. When asked specifically about the potential for a rowing machine, Foley responded with a smirk: “I think rowing is a fantastic workout.”(Updates with share move in the third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jason Kelly.To contact the reporters on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at email@example.com;Mark Gurman in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. antitrust enforcers should stop Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit Inc. because the deal will further consolidate the search giant’s control over consumer data, a coalition of privacy and consumer advocates said.The $2.1 billion takeover would allow Google to entrench its monopoly power in the digital marketplace, the groups said Wednesday in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission.“Through its vast portfolio of internet services, Google knows more about us than any other company, and it should not be allowed to add yet another way to track our every move,” they said.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is a leader in digital data, and Fitbit would give it a new stream of valuable health and activity data from Fitbit’s more than 28 million users. The purchase will mean Apple Inc. and Google control more than half of the global smartwatch market. Apple had 46% of this growing sector at the end of the second quarter, while Fitbit had 10%, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.A Google spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the letter to the FTC, which was signed by Open Markets Institute, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Federation of America, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, among others.A spokeswoman for the FTC didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and an email seeking comment.The deal is likely to face a stringent antitrust review. Google and other big internet companies are already under scrutiny at both the FTC and the Justice Department. A group of state attorneys general is also investigating whether Google’s business practices harm competition. Both Republicans and Democrats also have been strongly critical of practices by big technology and internet companies.Google is separately under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over its access to personal health data as part of a project to build a new internal search tool for the Ascension hospital network.\--With assistance from Ben Brody.To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Nvidia's diverse portfolio of GPU functionalities gives me confidence that this firm is going to continue to impress the markets in the years to come.
(Bloomberg) -- Google’s top health and cloud executives said the company isn’t misusing health data from one of the biggest U.S. health-care providers, pushing back against news reports that have triggered criticism from lawmakers and prompted a federal inquiry.Google employees only have access to patient information in order to build a new internal search tool for the Ascension hospital network, said David Feinberg, head of Google Health. No patient data is being used for Google’s artificial intelligence research, he added.The Alphabet Inc. company’s contract is governed by U.S. health privacy law that permits it access to patient records solely for the task of organizing Ascension’s various health records systems and building a tool to make them easier to search, Feinberg said.“That’s all we’re allowed to do and that’s all we are doing,” he said.Google’s deal with Ascension has been under scrutiny since the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday the company was collecting identifiable data on millions of Ascension patients and using it to build new products. On Tuesday, the paper reported that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ civil rights office was starting an inquiry into the situation.HHS’s Office of Civil Rights “would like to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records with respect to the implications for patient privacy under HIPAA,” said Roger Severino, director of the office, in a statement Wednesday. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the U.S. law that governs confidentiality and information sharing in health care and insurance, among other rules.Thomas Kurian, chief executive officer of Google Cloud, declined to comment on the inquiry.Google Gets Access to Health Data With Ascension PartnershipAscension’s health data is being stored on Google Cloud servers but sequestered so only Ascension employees can access it, according to Google.“All data is logically siloed to Ascension and housed within a virtual private space encrypted with dedicated keys,” Kurian said. “Google does not sell, share or otherwise combine data from Ascension with any other data.”Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Google’s activity was a “blatant disregard for privacy” and “beyond shameful.” News articles and social media posts have questioned why Google needs to collect patient information and speculated that the search giant could eventually use the data for advertising. That isn’t true, Kurian and Feinberg said in a joint interview.When Google does work with other companies on artificial intelligence research, it always strips out personally identifying information, Kurian said.“We never actually have Google employees understand individual patients’ data when it goes into the model. We have other technologies that de-identify it,” he said.Feinberg said his team is tapping Google’s expertise in search technology to build a tool that can scan through Ascension’s multiple electronic health record systems and make it easy for doctors and nurses to find the exact data they need, when they need it. The project is still in its infancy, but could eventually become a standalone product that Google could sell to other health-care providers and entities, Feinberg said.“If we can help solve the information overload and the pressures on doctors and nurses then there would be a huge benefit to a lot of people in those types of tools,” he said. “To me, that is actually really, really exciting.”\--With assistance from Mark Bergen.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Vlad Savov, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google is taking its deepest dive yet into the financial lives of its users with plans to roll out a checking-account service.Citigroup Inc. and a California credit union are the tech giant’s initial partners for the venture, which will let users access their bank accounts through the Google Pay app beginning next year, according to people familiar with the matter. Other banks could join up later, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans haven’t been announced.“We’re exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools,” Google said in an emailed statement, adding that the accounts will carry federally guaranteed insurance.The move is the latest sign of Silicon Valley’s determination to muscle in on financial firms’ territory, looking to expand their hold on customers and accumulate data on their finances. At the same time, it shows banks are more willing to pair up with technology companies in their quest to avoid getting shut out of the relationship entirely. In the Google arrangement, the financial institutions will handle most of the compliance requirements.Google has spent years building out its payments capabilities, offering consumers the ability to send money to friends and check out both online and in stores through Google Pay. With the checking accounts, consumers will be able to receive their paychecks and transact solely inside the Google ecosystem.“We’re going to see more of this, but it’s not the death of banking,” Bryce VanDiver, a partner with Capco who advises banks and payment companies, said in a telephone interview. “Compliance is still being manged by Citi. If you look at banks’ core competencies, compliance being one of those, they’re really good at that.”The Wall Street Journal reported Google’s plan earlier Wednesday.For Google, the trove of data associated with checking accounts and financial products is another step in its push to collect information on all aspects of consumers’ lives. The firm has a wealth of information on consumers’ search behavior from its flagship site as well as partnerships with the largest U.S. health-care systems to analyze consumers’ health data. The move comes at a time when Google and other large tech companies are under increased scrutiny in D.C. with antitrust probes around competition law.“This is probably more about Google Pay and how they plan to position that going forward to access all financial products, not just credit cards,” VanDiver said.One of the people said Google partnered with Citigroup in part because the lender has spent the last year building out its digital banking arm, an effort that’s helped the bank gather more than $4 billion in deposits this year.“This agreement has the potential to expand the reach and breadth of our customer base while complementing our continued investments in digital,” Citigroup said in a statement. The partnership is a bit of a shift for Citigroup, which has been relying on marketing its digital bank accounts to existing customers in the firm’s sprawling cards business. The New York-based company said earlier this month it would offer special perks for checking accounts to customers of its co-brand credit card with American Airlines Group Inc.“This year we’ve increased the deposits we’ve raised digitally more than fourfold,” Anand Selva, who leads Citigroup’s consumer bank in the U.S., said at an investor conference this month. “As we continue to test and learn and enhance our digital capabilities and experiences, the digital deposit momentum has accelerated through the year.”For the finance industry, the worry is that tech giants could one day replicate the success of Alipay and WeChat Pay in China, where money flows through digital systems without the need for banks.To fight off the threat, banks are striking deals to keep a firm hold on their customers. Apple Inc. paired with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. this year to offer a credit card that extended $10 billion in credit lines as of Sept. 30. Uber Technologies Inc. announced last month that it would offer a bank account to drivers on its platform through a partnership with Green Dot Corp.(Updates with comments from Google, Citi starting in the third paragraph.)\--With assistance from Julie Verhage.To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny Surane in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at email@example.com, Steve Dickson, James HertlingFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Greener and leaner transportation is a top priority for most industrialized countries currently, and smart solutions such as scooters, electric vehicles and bullet trains are quickly gaining popularity
‘Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system,’ Google executive Caesar Sengupta said. Photograph: Patrícia de Melo Moreira/AFP/AFP via Getty ImagesGoogle is to offer personal checking accounts to consumers in a partnership with Citigroup bank as the search giant pushes deeper in its quest to harvest the personal data of consumers.The project, code-named Cache, is expected to launch next year.News of the project comes a day after a whistle-blower revealed the existence of Project Nightingale – a hook-up with the healthcare giant Ascendant that could give Google access to personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans.The existence of Project Cache, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is further evidence that big tech is looking to challenging the primacy of the banking industry.Over the past year, Facebook has announced it is working on a digital currency, Apple has introduced a credit card and Amazon has been in talks with banks to introduce personal accounts for consumers.Each, in turn, is likely to stoke fears of consumers and regulators alike that technology companies are gathering too much information on their consumers.On Tuesday, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, urged Europe to seize control of its data from Silicon Valley tech giants and establish “digital sovereignty” instead of relying on Amazon, Microsoft and Google.“So many companies have just outsourced all their data to US companies,” Merkel said.“I’m not saying that’s bad in and of itself – I just mean that the value-added products that come out of that, with the help of artificial intelligence, will create dependencies that I’m not sure are a good thing.”But so far each of the tech giants financial offerings have run into problems.Several partners have pulled out of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency after regulators signaled opposition, while Apple’s credit card partner, Goldman Sachs, has been sued for allegedly offering discriminatory credit limits.But, according to the Journal, Google is not planning to self-brand its checking or personal account.“Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system,” Google executive Caesar Sengupta told the paper. “It may be the slightly longer path, but it’s more sustainable.”Sengupta said Google would not sell checking account users’ financial data in the same way that Google does not share data from its fast-growing service Google Pay with advertisers.“If we can help more people do more stuff in a digital way online, it’s good for the internet and good for us,” Sengupta told the newspaper.But how far Google will have to go to reassure a wary public that it can be trusted with what is arguably their most intimate information – money and health – is open to question. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company found only 58% of people surveyed said they would trust the company with financial products.
Alphabet Inc's Google said on Wednesday it will offer personal checking accounts next year through its Google Pay app, initially in partnership with Citigroup Inc and a small credit union at Stanford University. The project, codenamed Cache, comes as rivals Facebook Inc and Apple Inc are expanding their own efforts in consumer finance, a broad area that ranges from digital payment apps to bank accounts, brokerage accounts and loans, and which offer Silicon Valley new sources of revenue and new opportunities to strengthen ties with users. The scrutiny most recently prompted Facebook's partners to pull back from plans to support the launch of a digital currency.
The details of the project, named Cache, were first reported by the Wall Street Journal and follow moves by tech heavyweights Apple Inc and Facebook Inc into the financial industry this year. Facebook's plan to launch its Libra cryptocurrency has met with skepticism from regulators, worried about the risk of money laundering and the security of transactions and user data.
(Bloomberg) -- In the four years since it was founded, Convoy Inc. has assembled a lineup of big-name investors that includes Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Marc Benioff. It’s adding one more to the list: Al Gore.The former U.S. vice president’s sustainability-focused investing fund, Generation Investment Management LLP, led a $400 million funding round for Convoy, which makes software to connect freight shippers with truck drivers. T. Rowe Price Group Inc. co-led the investment with Gore’s firm, Convoy said Wednesday. The deal values the startup at $2.75 billion.Convoy is often described as “Uber for trucking”—a moniker that took hold before Uber Technologies Inc. set up a competing business. Uber has committed to hire 2,000 people to expand freight operations in Chicago. Another rival business in the United Arab Emirates, Trukker, said Tuesday it received a $23 million investment led by a Saudi Arabian venture capital fund.A big part of Convoy’s pitch is that it can improve the trucking business by making it more efficient, both financially and environmentally. Transportation is the largest source of U.S. emissions today, and heavy-duty trucks represent about 13% of those emissions. Convoy’s service is designed to eliminate unnecessary driving by ensuring trucks can get loads on each trip. The business isn’t yet profitable, but Dan Lewis, the chief executive officer, has said it will be eventually.Customers include Procter & Gamble Co. and Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Among the investors in the new funding round are Alphabet Inc.’s CapitalG, Baillie Gifford, Durable Capital Partners, Fidelity Investments and Lone Pine Capital. The new funds are expected to help the company accelerate its expansion and fend off competition from upstarts, as well as the likes of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.\--With assistance from Dina Bass and Thomas Black.To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Chasan in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
"We are happy to cooperate with any questions about the project," Google said in a blog post later on Tuesday, regarding the federal inquiry. The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said.
The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said https://on.wsj.com/2NGPPQX.
(Bloomberg) -- Singularity University, a Silicon Valley institute offering education on futurism, is reckoning with its own uncertain future. The chief executive officer is stepping down, and the organization plans to eliminate staff.The changes were outlined in an email Tuesday reviewed by Bloomberg that was sent to faculty by Erik Anderson, the executive chairman. They mark an extended decline for the company, which has in recent years lost an annual grant from Google and faced allegations of sexual assault, embezzlement and discrimination.Rob Nail, who ran Singularity for the last eight years, is leaving to pursue new career opportunities, Anderson wrote in the email. Singularity is conducting a CEO search, said a spokesman. The announcement of job cuts was made in line with U.S. labor law, which requires 60-day notice for companies with more than 100 employees, the spokesman said.Singularity declined to specify how many jobs would be affected, but a person familiar with the matter put the total at about 60. This person said many of those workers were informed of the news while attending a Singularity summit in Athens that ended Tuesday.Singularity, which takes its name from the notion that humans will someday merge with machines, was introduced in 2009 during a TED Talk by futurist Ray Kurzweil. The group operates for profit but with a mandate for social responsibility. Many alumni of its programs credit the organization with teaching them about cutting-edge concepts and helping them think more expansively.Others complain the programs are over-hyped and culturally toxic. One former student alleged she was assaulted in 2013 by an astronaut who taught at Singularity. Several executives have been accused of financial wrongdoings, including theft and fraud. Google ended its support of a key program at Singularity in 2017, although a senior program manager at Google, Jen Phillips, still appears on the Singularity website as an adviser. (Google told Bloomberg last year that she had left the advisory board.)In recent years, Singularity has expanded its conference and executive education initiatives, including a weeklong $14,500 program at its Mountain View, California, campus. The flagship Graduate Studies Program, once free to students, is now known as the Global Startup Program and costs $30,000 for two three-week in person programs plus a year’s worth of virtual networking.In the email sent to faculty Tuesday, Anderson said Singularity would look to increase its number of individual and corporate members. He also conveyed a message from Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, another founder and executive director. The two men said the need to solve “humanity’s biggest challenges is more important than ever” and that they “remain more dedicated to Singularity than ever before.”To contact the author of this story: Sarah McBride in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google said it has fired an employee for leaking staffer names and personal details to the media and placed two others on leave for allegedly violating company policies, evidence of escalating tension between management and personnel engaged in labor-related activism.A Google spokeswoman said the company is investigating the employees who were placed on leave. One of them had searched for and shared confidential documents outside the scope of their job, while the other tracked the individual calendars of staff working in the community platforms, human resources, and communications teams, she said. The tracking had made the staff in those departments feel unsafe, the spokeswoman said.Google didn’t identify the employee who was fired, or the staffers placed on leave.The company’s statement came after Bloomberg News inquired about two employees being placed on leave who had participated in activism at Google. The suspensions have been a hot topic of discussion at the company in the last week, stoking anger among some workers and prompting claims that Google is punishing people who have taken a stand against management, according to three employees familiar with the matter. The suspended workers were based in the U.S., two of the employees said.Workplace IncivilityThe development is the latest sign of disharmony at Alphabet Inc.’s Google and follows a tumultuous month in which some workers accused managers of attempting to censor internal discussions and shut down meetings about labor rights. At least some of the tensions stem from new community guidelines Google introduced in August that were intended to curb incivility in the workplace.The employees familiar with the matter said they were told that one of the people on leave is being punished for accessing company documents that were at the center of a recent controversy.The documents concerned a mandatory tool that was recently installed on the Google Chrome browser on workers’ computers, the employees said. In October, some Google employees raised concerns that the Chrome extension was an internal surveillance tool designed to monitor their attempts to organize protests. It would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to an employee memo that outlined concerns about the tool. A Google representative said the extension was merely an attempt to reduce calendar spam.The Google spokeswoman said no one was put on leave for accessing or opening a single need-to-know document; instead, she said one person was put on leave for allegedly searching for, accessing and sharing a wide range of company documents.Company DocumentsOn an internal Google message board, some staffers suggested that the suspensions represented a death knell for the culture of openness that historically defined the company’s workplace.“As a company we’ve prided ourselves on transparency and information-sharing,” wrote one employee, in a post reviewed by Bloomberg News. “As I was told as a noogler [new Google employee], one of the big benefits of Google is that you can see what everyone else is working on, and how it all fits together. But I guess we’ve abandoned that now. And that both disappoints and terrifies me.”In the past, one of the employees said, employees could review internal documents for virtually any project underway within the company. In recent years, however, more projects have become closed off and accessible only to smaller groups on a “need-to-know” basis, the employee said.Earlier this year, following a series of leaks to the media, Google executives tightened their grip. They shut down thousands of contractors’ access to company documents, citing security concerns. Google’s senior managers, meanwhile, warned employees not to access or share certain documents.In a memo to employees in early May, Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, warned that it was considered “a violation of our policies to improperly access, copy, or share confidential or need-to-know information, whether or not it is explicitly marked.” Walker added that the company had “fired people who violated our data policies,” according to the memo, which was previously reported by BuzzFeed News.The spokeswoman said the company earlier this year sent employees a reminder of long-standing data classification and security policies.Rising TensionsIn the last 18 months or so, a divide has grown between Google’s management and rank-and-file employees, who have become increasingly politicized. Employees have protested leadership’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and launched internal campaigns against some Google projects, including a censored search engine in China and a contract with the Pentagon to analyze drone footage. Earlier this month, more than 1,000 employees called on the company to cancel deals with oil and gas companies.As news of the suspensions spread through Google last week, many employees responded by posting satirical memes to Memegen, an internal photo messaging board.In one meme, an employee posted the Google logo alongside a reinterpretation of the company’s corporate mission statement. “Organize the world’s information,” it said, “and make it accessible on a need-to-know basis.”To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Gallagher in Edinburgh at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The secret scheme involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second largest healthcare provider in the US. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesA whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal.The anonymous whistleblower has posted a video on the social media platform Daily Motion that contains a document dump of hundreds of images of confidential files relating to Project Nightingale. The secret scheme, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike other similar efforts it has not been made anonymous though a process of removing personal information known as de-identification.The whistleblower introduces the video with the words: “I must speak out about the things that are going on behind the scenes.”The disclosed documents include highly confidential outlines of Project Nightingale, laying out the four stages or “pillars” of the secret project. By the time the transfer is completed next March, it will have passed the personal data of 50 million or more patients in 21 states to Google, with 10 million or so files already having moved across – with no warning having been given to patients or doctors.Among the documents are the notes of a private meeting held by Ascension operatives involved in Project Nightingale. In it, they raise serious concerns about the way patients’ personal health information will be used by Google to build new artificial intelligence and other tools.The notes say that one employee “expressed concerns of individuals downloading patient data – need to make sure everyone is trained to not be able to do that”.According to the whistleblower, the security fears raised at that meeting, including concerns that the transfer may be in breach of federal HIPAA rules on data privacy, have so far gone unanswered by Google.Project Nightingale is understood to be by far the largest data transfer of its kind so far in the healthcare field. It will cover the entire spread of Ascension, a Catholic network of 2,600 hospitals, clinics and other medical outlets.Google has entered into similar partnerships on a much smaller scale with clients such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. But in that case all the data handed over to the search giant was encrypted, with keys being held only on the medical side.The deal between Google and Ascension to go ahead with the data transfer was formally signed on Monday, hours after the Wall Street Journal broke the story.The Guardian does not know the identity of the whistleblower. They are one of about 300 employees working on Project Nightingale, approximately half on the Google side and half with Ascension.In an interview with the Guardian, they explained the decision to go public. They cited widespread anxiety among Project Nightingale employees about the secrecy of the transfer, and about how Google was being given access to personal information of millions of patients.They had family members, they said, who have been through the health system and who were worried about even their body weight being shared with doctors. They would be alarmed to learn that their names, addresses, date of birth, medical conditions, lab records, hospitalization history and more might be included in the Project Nightingale data given to Google.“Most Americans would feel uncomfortable if they knew their data was being haphazardly transferred to Google without proper safeguards and security in place. This is a totally new way of doing things. Do you want your most personal information transferred to Google? I think a lot of people would say no.”The whistleblower also expressed concern that so much sensitive and potentially valuable data was being amassed by one big tech company. Google could go on to use its AI analytics to predict outcomes for individual patients, they posited.“In the future, such risks are only likely to grow. This is the last frontier of extremely sensitive data that needs to be protected,” they said.This is not the first time Google has ended up in hot water over its efforts to become the dominant player in healthcare data and analytics. In 2017, the transfer of 1.6m patient records at the Royal Free hospital in London to the company’s artificial intelligence arm DeepMind Health was found to have an “inappropriate legal basis” by the UK’s watchdog on data.The ambition of Google’s parent company Alphabet is to develop new AI tools that can help predict health patterns and improve treatment. Google recently announced plans to buy Fitbit for $2.1bn, aiming to enter the wearables market and invest in digital health.Google and Ascension have released statements in the wake of the disclosure of Project Nightingale, insisting it conforms with HIPAA and all federal health laws. They said that patient data was protected.Google Cloud told the Wall Street Journal that the aim was “ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives”.In a statement, Ascension said: “All work related to Ascension’s engagement with Google is HIPAA compliant and underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling.”In the video, the whistleblower begs to disagree. In annotations that run over the leaked documents, they suggest that in future Google might be able to sell or share the data with third parties, or create patient profiles against which they can advertise healthcare products.“Patients haven’t been told how Ascension is using their data and have not consented to their data being transferred to the cloud or being used by Google. At the very least patients should be told and be able to opt in or opt out,” the whistleblower writes.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s “mighty” Google faced an unlikely figure in a London court on Monday: a cab driver from South London.The search company sued Goooglie Cars’ sole director Sohail Nagi for 10,000 pounds ($12,800), arguing the cabby had been “unfairly free-riding off its reputation” by presenting the company name in Google’s style -- using a very similar font and color scheme as the tech giant’s logo.In 2012, after a two-month discussion with Google, Nagi agreed to change his logo to black with cricket balls in place of the O’s to represent the cricket term for a slow spinning ball -- a “googly.” Google’s lawyer Maxwell Keay said this hadn’t been implemented however, and the logo was only changed this year, after the firm had filed its suit against the taxi company.Judge Gordon Nurse ruled in favor of the company after it agreed to cap its legal costs at 10,000 pounds, about half of what it incurred, which Nurse called “a very generous limit.” Nagi was ordered to pay the sum within 28 days and was warned that Google could make a claim against his home in London’s Mitcham neighborhood if he fails to do so.“I’m a very poor man and it’s very hard to survive,” Nagi told the court.But Nurse didn’t give Google everything it wanted. The judge rejected Google’s request that Goooglie Cars change its name because its new cricket-style logo is “extremely difficult to associate with Google, the mighty tech company,” he said.Google didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Milligan in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s Disney+ launch day, the arrival of a new video app that serves as Walt Disney Co.’s official entry into the streaming wars. But while the $7-a-month service may be a perfect choice for fans of “The Avengers” and “Star Wars,” or for parents of young children, Disney knows that’s not nearly enough variety for most people. Its efforts to address that shortcoming hint at what’s next for the industry: the revival of bundles. Buzz about Disney+ has been building for some weeks, as ads for the service cropped up on Twitter, billboards and TV. What’s gotten less attention is the crucial role Hulu plays in the company’s strategy. As part of Tuesday’s launch, consumers also now have the option of getting Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (the on-demand version with ads) together for a rate of $13 a month, rather than paying for each app separately, which would total $18. Internally, Disney appears to be calling it the “super-bundle,” based on the image file name that was displayed on the sign-up page early Tuesday morning in place of a logo that wasn’t rendering (whoops):With the way content has been atomized — e.g., you can only stream Disney stuff on Disney+ going forward — no service on its own will provide all the shows and movies that a typical consumer wants. So as more viewers become completely reliant on streaming subscriptions, they’ll try to configure a set of apps that gets closest to imitating their ideal cable package. But that may get quite expensive. Say you want to watch “The Mandalorian” — the “Star Wars” series that’s headlining Disney+ — but you’re also a fan of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” hooked on HBO’s “Succession” and want lots of live sports, the likes of which Google’s broadcast-channel-heavy YouTube TV service provides. That would add up to $85 a month, in addition to the price of internet access — not quite the savings one might have envisioned from canceling cable. For the media companies, this is going to lead to lots of subscriber turnover month to month, with viewers pausing one subscription in favor of another just to binge on a new season of a hit series.The pickings on Disney+ are simply too narrow to be a cable substitute. This is where Hulu comes in, and to a lesser extent, ESPN+ (which is chiefly for fans of soccer and college sports). Hulu provides some of what’s missing from Disney’s superhero and family-friendly fare, with popular originals such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” recent episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other licensed programming. While the super bundle is really just Disney+ and Hulu throwing in ESPN+ for free, it's strategically priced at the same rate as Netflix and provides insight into Disney's thinking.Disney won’t be alone in looking for ways to bundle services for customers. HBO Max, the streaming app that AT&T Inc. is introducing in May 2020, is effectively a $15 bundle of HBO, content from sister networks such as TBS, the “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory” franchises and Warner Bros. films (all for the same price as HBO on its own). Apple Channels, where users can sign up for third-party services such as CBS All Access and Starz using their Apple ID, at least allows users to consolidate their payments to a single company, but it doesn’t provide discounts for doing so. For cable giants Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., negotiating with programmers to structure discounted streaming-app bundles would be a natural evolution of their businesses.So much of the focus of the streaming wars has been on trying to pick the winner, or who will be the true Netflix killer. In fact, Netflix and Disney may control 60% of the U.S. streaming-video market by 2024, according to Geetha Ranganathan, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. Most people wouldn’t want to see the streaming marketplace go the way of the box office — where Disney’s Marvel movies and animated features are the overwhelming majority. (And Netflix isn’t exactly known for the highest-quality menu.) Bundles that include broader arrays of content from different sources offer a better shot at sustained competition, and that sounds awfully better than a world in which all Hollywood’s creative decisions rest in the hands of just a few giants.It’s time to bundle up.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.