Back in July a partnership was announced between the NHS and Amazon that would allow Alexa devices to offer health advice, and it was highlighted that this would be of particular use for persons with accessibility needs who would have trouble using a computer or mobile device to access NHS information. But, The Sunday Times and Guardian newspapers this weekend revealed via Freedom of Information requests that this agreement allows Amazon access to information such as symptoms, causes and definitions of conditions. Under the agreement, the information can be shared with third parties worldwide.
The NHS and Amazon were quick however to deny that this information included private data regarding individual patients, and any patient data would be anonymized. Amazon said that it could not build profiles of customers according to their health needs.
In a previous blog we reported on the use of digital devices to assist dementia sufferers and the Tory party manifesto includes a promise to “invest in health data system.” Certainly, the Alexa device and other similar devices would be useful for people with memory problems, as well as persons with disabilities and access problems, but it’s concerning that this information can be used and shared by private corporations.
Further information can be found here.
Written by Jennifer Johnston at BLM