The partnership, announced today, allows users to ask for health advice from verified NHS sources using their Alexa device with NHSX confirming in a tweet that the health service is not “paying Amazon a penny”.
While some within the NHS welcomed the news, others have raised concerns around patient safety and data protection.
A lack of detail about how patient data will be used and stored makes the deal appear like a “crazy PR stunt”, according to Phil Booth, a co-ordinator at medConfidential. Personal and health data is heavily protected under GDPR in the UK, but Amazon Alexa doesn’t comply with the same laws, Booth said.
“Given that the information we are talking about would be considered sensitive personal data, it indicates mental or physical health, there are very specific and strong protection around that data in the UK through GDPR.”
Under GDPR, personal information can only be stored for a set amount of time and only for specific uses. It cannot be stored indefinitely.
“If Matt Hancock or the Department of Health have not burrowed down to this level of detail and do not have answers that will be challengeable in international courts, then this just looks like a crazy PR stunt and not a serious proposition,” Booth said.
Big Brother Watch shares similar concerns around data protection, labelling the partnership a “data protection disaster waiting to happen”.