Amazon's NHS Collaboration Will See the US Company Get Access to Medical Data for Free

By Shabana Arif on at

It turns out that the government's deal with Amazon to provide medical date for Alexa to parrot at people is a bit shit for the NHS.

We first heard word of the NHS and Alexa crossing paths back in February, with a follow-up in July that saw the government agreeing to let Alexa draw data from the official NHS advice website to answer questions from worry warts, hypochondriacs, and people who are too stubborn to go to the doctors. It also solves accessibility issues for people who "may not have been able to easily access nhs.uk content via a mobile device or computer in the past,” according to an NHS spokesperson.

The contract has since been released and the finer details seem somewhat sketchy. The NHS blog already explained that it would be giving away data (not patient data) for free which didn't seem too controversial initially. A number of other bodies also use the info for free, but only within the UK under the current agreements.

The Amazon deal will see the billion dollar company take all that free info, disseminate it worldwide, and use all that data to create "new products, applications, cloud-based services and/or distributed software”, of which the NHS would get precisely zero kickback from.

The contract has been criticised by Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, who told the Sunday Times that the whole thing is “highly irresponsible” and that the government is "in the pocket of big corporate interests”.

The NHS and Amazon have only commented on the agreement in order to reassure everyone that their patient data isn't being provided along with everything else. [The Guardian]