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Silicon Valley

Facebook had plans to break into medical data sharing

But its project to hoover up patient records from hospitals is currently on hiatus, for what should be obvious reasons.

The news: CNBC reports that Facebook “asked several major US hospitals to share anonymized data about their patients … for a proposed research project.”

Details: The idea was to give medical researchers more information on patients by tying user data to medical records while obscuring private details from data handlers using a cryptographic technique known as hashing.

What we don't know: Rather a lot. Would patients get the choice to opt in? And how would it comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which outlines data privacy rules for safeguarding medical information?

But: Facebook says the work has “not progressed past ... planning.” It also says that it has shelved the project for now, so it can do “important work, including ... a better job of protecting people's data."

Why it matters: You may have heard—Facebook is embroiled in a huge data scandal. This news will only serve to increase fears about the firm’s growing access to personal information.

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