Last week I read an interesting exchange between David Davis, former UK shadow home secretary, and Google about whether Google Health and the likes would be a good idea or not to store patient records in the UK, something I mentioned in a previous blog post.
When politicians look into private solutions to storing citizen data, the discussion inevitably shifts toward privacy risks. When the concerned private party is Google, this is even more straightforward.
Irrespective of whether Google poses a serious risk to privacy or not, I often wonder about the European policy-makers’ attitude to Google. Its dominance in the search as well as the online advertisement market is pretty evident, yet I have not seen the EU taking any stance besides putting some modest R&D money to benefit European players (with negligible results so far though).
Here comes the malicious (and most likely totally inaccurate) thought: one reason might be that Google still is the best anti-Microsoft company (for lack of any European alternative). Especially now, bashing Google on search dominance would indirectly favor Microsoft with its Bing offering and its recent deal with Yahoo. Google also provides alternatives to other Microsoft top sellers, like Office and Windows, and has aggressively pursued open standards and open source, both of which are close to European policymakers’ hearts.
May this change with Google delivering on Crome, Wave and other initiatives that could give it a much stronger hold on client devices? Or is indeed Google Health the area that may raise most concerns, not only because of privacy but because of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested and earmarked for government-led initiatives? And, if so, what if one or more European companies came up with their own solution to privatized patient records? Would this be more acceptable?