Google Sued for ‘Unlawful’ Use of 1.6 Million Britons’ NHS Data

Google sued for using the NHS data of 1.6 million Britons 'without their knowledge or consent'


Google is being sued in the United Kingdom for unlawful use of 1.6 million people’s private medical records.

The data was obtained in 2015 from the Royal Free NHS Trust in London with the aim of testing a smartphone app known as ‘Streams’ by the company’s artificial intelligence arm, DeepMind. The app was aimed at addressing the 25% of preventable deaths from acute kidney injury if discovered early enough.

The lawsuit is being brought as a representative action by Andrew Prismall. The claim is that Google and DeepMind “obtained and used a substantial number of confidential medical records without patients’ knowledge or consent”.

In order to test the smartphone app, Google obtained data from 1.6 million patients, some of whom had only visited A&E in the previous five years. The Royal Free NHS Trust later received a discount on the smartphone software.

According to a leaked letter from the NHS’s most senior data security adviser, Royal Free released the patients’ data on a “improper legal basis,” according to Sky News.

The contract was later deemed to be illegal by the UK’s privacy watchdog, who decided not to sanction Royal Free because of a lack of direction for the industry.

DeepMind stated at the time of the statement by the Information Commissioner’s Office that its “findings are about the Royal Free, [but] we need to reflect on our own activities as well.”


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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