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On Health Records

By - April 17, 2008

Health

The Times reports on a New England Journal of Medicine article that raises some important questions:

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

….But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.

The issue is this:

Microsoft and Google, the authors note, are not bound by the privacy restrictions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or Hipaa, the main law that regulates personal data handling and patient privacy. Hipaa, enacted in 1996, did not anticipate Web-based health records systems like the ones Microsoft and Google now offer.

The authors say that consumer control of personal data under the new, unregulated Web systems could open the door to all kinds of marketing and false advertising from parties eager for valuable patient information.

Microsoft responds saying it’s wary of government regulation. Google is not quoted as responding. I wonder what its response is to this issue?

(thanks, Marc)

Google Gamed the 700 Mhz Auction? No!

By - April 16, 2008

Republican lawmakers are crying foul:

Google Inc. manipulated a U.S. government spectrum auction by bidding just enough to trigger rules that will open a nationwide set of airwaves to any device and then walking away, Republican lawmakers said.

The so-called open-access requirements, also backed by consumer groups, may have shortchanged taxpayers by discouraging more companies from bidding, Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, said today at a hearing.

“Google was successful in gaming the system,” Upton said. The rules were a “social engineering” experiment by the Federal Communications Commission that prevented the spectrum swath, known as the C-block, from raising billions of dollars more, he said.

But they should not be surprised, this was Google’s stated intent all along.

Yahoo, Google, MySpace Launch NotFaceBook Coalition

By - March 25, 2008

Customlogo

Er…I mean the OpenSocial Foundation. This marks Yahoo’s formal joining up. Expect Facebook to join too. Wire coverage.

From a release sent to me by Yahoo:

Yahoo! supports OpenSocial; Yahoo!, MySpace and Google to form non-profit OpenSocial Foundation

Community organization to assure neutrality and longevity of specification for building social applications across the web

SUNNYVALE/LOS ANGELES/MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. (March 25, 2008)—Yahoo!, MySpace, and Google today announced they have agreed to form the OpenSocial Foundation to ensure the neutrality and longevity of OpenSocial as an open, community-governed specification for building social applications across the web. Yahoo!’s support of OpenSocial and role as a founding member of the new foundation are landmarks for the rapidly growing specification which will now offer developers the potential to connect with more than 500 million people worldwide.

The OpenSocial Foundation will be an independent non-profit entity with a formal intellectual property and governance framework; related assets will be assigned to the new organization by July 1, 2008. The foundation will provide transparency and operational guidelines around technology, documentation, intellectual property, and other issues related to the evolution of the OpenSocial platform, while also ensuring all stakeholders share influence over its future direction.

Trust.

By - March 23, 2008

And the lack thereof. We’re all living in the world of the Database of Intentions, except, apparently, the White House.

Older White House computer hard drives have been destroyed, the White House disclosed to a federal court Friday in a controversy over millions of possibly missing e-mails from 2003 to 2005….

… the White House disclosed in January that it recycled its computer backup tapes before October 2003. Recycling — taping over existing data — raises the possibility that any missing e-mails may not be recoverable.

Gee. I am sure this was not intentional.

Can't Lose For Winning: Google on Spectrum

By - March 21, 2008

Love the spin here from the AP, with which I do agree:

Losing the battle for a prized piece of the airwaves isn’t necessarily a setback for Google Inc.1

If anything, Thursday’s news that Verizon Wireless had won the government-run auction for a pivotal swath of spectrum may even have been the ideal outcome for Google.

That’s because investors no longer have to fret about Google straying from its main business of Internet search to spend more than $10 billion buying and building a wireless network.

Yet Google still positioned itself to profit from the newly available airwaves by ensuring the bids for the so-called “C block” escalated to $4.6 billion. Reaching that price triggered a provision that requires the new wireless network to accommodate all mobile devices, including equipment using a software package called “Android” that is supposed to give Google a better opportunity to sell more advertising.

The Great Firewall, Again

By - March 17, 2008

This issue is not going away, and the Olympics will only heighten it…from ars:

China has joined the ranks of countries that have instituted either temporary or permanent blocks on YouTube. The decision came as clips of the recent riots in Tibet—a “sensitive” topic in China—have made their way onto the popular video sharing site. As usual, the Chinese government has remained mum on the move to block content from the eyes of Internet users, so it’s unclear whether this block will remain in effect for the long term or if it’s merely a short-term solution.

YouTube isn’t the only site that has reportedly been added to China’s Great Firewall since the Tibetan riots started last week. Popular news sites reporting on the riots—such as CNN, The Guardian, the BBC, Google News, and Yahoo!—have allegedly had all or parts of their sites blocked. Some Chinese readers have reported that only specific articles have been blocked, including ones that contain keywords about Tibet, riots, or the Dalai Lama.