In a nutshell, the new policy combines all of Google's privacy policies, ultimately enabling it to share user information across services. Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calf.), one of the meetings attendees, said in an interview with USA Today's Technology Live blog that such sharing could create a Hipaa Compliance violation under certain circumstances.
Bono Mack talks about a hypothetical situation in which a user performs a search for cervical cancer using Google, but forget to log out, causing him or her to be tracked across other products.
"That's a violation of HIPAA," she says. "We've gone to great lengths in our society to protect people's medical information."
Healthcare attorney and consultant David Harlow, author of HealthBlawg, disagrees with Bono Mack's assessment on a number of different levels.
What's more, Harlow says that by searching for such information on a platform like Google, a user is releasing the information themselves.
"Some may say that people wouldn't understand that they're releasing information by typing it into a search box," he says. But in this day and age, people are smarter than some assume, he adds.
"From a strict legal constructionist's standpoint, the policy is sufficient," he says.
To learn more:
- read this Search Engine Land article
- here's Bono Mack's interview with USA Today
Read more here.