Does Google now have access to your health records? The federal government is looking into whether the company invaded the privacy of tens of millions of Americans.
Taylor Swift says she’s barred from singing her older songs in televised performances and has made a public appeal to fans and other musicians to speak up in her defense.
And a Texas couple feels the heat from a Grinch after getting an early start on their Christmas decorating.
Here’s what you need to know in the daily roundup.
TOP STORY: Google Is Under Investigation After Reaching a Deal to Access Health Records of 50 Million Americans
Google may now have access to your private health records. The tech company has partnered with healthcare provider Ascension on a project called Nightingale. This project has triggered deep concerns about what kind of personal information Google can access and whether the company can adequately protect such important data.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report about the partnership. The idea was that Google’s technology could help Ascension become more efficient by analyzing medical records and providing suggestions to providers. But doctors and patients alike were kept out of the loop about this arrangement, which impacts upwards of 50 million people.
The Guardian published an op-ed from a person who claimed to have worked on Nightingale but developed misgivings about the scope of the project. The anonymous writer wrote, “I can see the advantages of unleashing Google’s huge computing power on medical data. Applications will be faster; data more accessible to doctors; new channels will be opened that might in time find cures to certain conditions.
But the disadvantages prey on my mind. Employees at big tech companies having access to personal information; data potentially being handed on to third parties; adverts one day being targeted at patients according to their medical histories. I’d like to hope that the result of my raising the lid on this issue will be open debate leading to concrete change. Transfers of healthcare data to big tech companies need to be shared with the public and made fully transparent, with monitoring by an independent watchdog.”
The U.S. government appears to agree with this person’s sentiment. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation. Google and Ascension both insist that they followed the law in terms of protecting medical records and patients’ privacy.
WHAT’S BUZZING THAT HAS EVERYONE TALKING: Taylor Swift Says She’s Barred From Singing Her Old Songs In Televised Performances
The battle over Taylor Swift’s music catalog has reached another level. For a brief recap: Swift recorded her first several albums with Big Machine Records before switching to Universal Music Group in 2018. Music executive Scooter Braun acquired Big Machine last year and owns the master recordings of Swift’s songs.
Swift has been planning to re-record her old hits in 2020 when she is legally allowed to do so. But there is a major snag in the meantime. Swift claimed in a lengthy social media post that Braun and Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta “have now said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.” Swift had planned to perform a medley of her old songs at the American Music Awards on November 24, where she will receive the Artist of the Decade award.
In the social media post, Swift also revealed that Netflix has been working on a documentary about her life over the past several years. She says Braun and Borchetta have “declined the use of my older music or performance footage for this project, even though there is no mention of either of them or Big Machine Records anywhere in the film.”
Swift said that Braun and Borchetta left in a caveat: she may sing her old songs now if she promises not to create new recordings of them later. That is not something Swift would ever agree to do. “The message being sent to me is very clear. Basically, be a good little girl and shut up. Or you’ll be punished.”
Swift has appealed to fans and other musicians to speak out on her behalf as this drama unfolds. “This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs… I just want to be able to perform MY OWN music.” She added, “Please let Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun know how you feel about this. Scooter also manages several artists I really believe car about other artists and their work. Please ask them for help with this.”
OFF-BEAT: Texas Couple Ordered to Take Down Early Christmas Decorations
There’s a Grinch in Nick and Claudia Simonis’ suburban neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. The couple loves to decorate their yard for Christmas. But this year, they decided to get an early start on the festivities because Claudia is eight months pregnant. Their third child is due to arrive on December 25. They wanted to decorate the house while Claudia still could.
The Simonis family’s display includes a snowman and an (adorable) inflatable helicopter complete with Santa Claus and a reindeer pilot. But three days later, they received a letter from the local homeowners association instructing them to remove their decorations “until closer to the holiday season.”
The letter did not specify what date the organization feels is acceptable to put up holiday displays. Nick and Claudia Simonis have said they have no intention of complying, and that other neighbors have begun putting out their own displays in solidarity. See more of the couple’s decorations here.
DAILY NEWS ROUNDUP
- A teenage gunman shot and killed two classmates and injured several others at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California on Thursday.
- Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies today in the public impeachment hearing.
- A test flight from London to Sydney has broken a record for the longest passenger flight by a commercial airline.
- Florida man Jon Earl Pickard says he was driving recklessly because he needed to get home quickly after cheating on his wife.
- Steven Foster, the man detained for eating a sandwich on a train platform in San Francisco, plans to sue.
CHECK THIS OUT
One of the iconic flip phones of the early 2000s has gotten a makeover and is making a comeback! Motorola’s Razr phone, which first launched back in 2004, has been converted into an Android smartphone. It has a 6.2-inch display, but can still fit in your pocket because of the fold.
The phone looks much like it did back in the day, with the curved bottom and vertical close. But it now features a USB-C charging port and a fingerprint sensor. The Verge reported that since the updated version is bigger than the original, it does take a bit more maneuvering to close the phone with one hand. According to Life Hacker, the phone has a Snapdragon 710 processor, which makes it slower than other phones, and 6GB of memory. Motorola may have included a slower processor in order to improve battery life.
But the newly designed Razr does not come cheap. The price tag is $1,500. We’ll see if the nostalgia is enough to entice customers to make the switch.
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