Google denies lobbying to kill privacy provision

Google today denied a claim by a group called Consumer Watchdog that it was lobbying to kill consumer privacy protections in proposed health IT legislation.

From the Google Public Policy Blog:

Consumer Watchdog wrong on medical records claim
Tuesday, January 27, 2009 at 3:12 PM
Posted by Pablo Chavez, Senior Policy Counsel

Earlier today a group called Consumer Watchdog put out a press release alleging a “rumored lobbying effort” by Google “aimed at allowing the sale of electronic medical records.”

This claim — based on no evidence whatsoever — is 100 percent false and unfounded.

Google does not sell health data. In fact, one of our most steadfast privacy principles is that we don’t sell our users’ personal data, whether it’s stored in Google Health, Gmail, or in any of our products. And from a policy perspective, we oppose the sale of medical information in the health care industry.

We are supportive of strong privacy protections for medical records. Consumers own their electronic medical data and should have the right to easily access their information and control who gets to see it. We also believe in data portability, and we support open standards that enable consumers to control their data and take it wherever they’d like.

We have corresponded with Consumer Watchdog several times over the past few months to hear and address their concerns. It’s unfortunate that they did not contact us before making today’s unfounded statements, because we could have told them that their claims were patently false.

At last year’s HIMSS conference, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that the company would not attempt to monetize its health product, other than by driving people to the company’s regular search engine.