As part of a deep learning project, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) transferred data from 1.6 million patients to Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence arm, and now that transfer has been ruled illegal. The country’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) made the determination following an extensive investigation. Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the project “failed to comply with the Data Protection Act” and that “the price of innovation does not need to be the erosion of fundamental privacy rights.”
The NHS transferred the data in order to test a smartphone app intended to detect and warn patients about potential acute kidney injuries (AKIs). The NHS is now using the app in patient care.
DeepMind issued a statement which said, “In our determination to achieve quick impact when this work started in 2015, we underestimated the complexity of the NHS and of the rules around patient data, as well as the potential fears about a well-known tech company working in health.”