Amazon's Alexa will now give Brits health advice

Brits can now ask Amazon's Alexa for health advice. But will privacy concerns stop them?The British government announced Wednesday that UK residents c...

Posted: Jul 10, 2019 6:13 AM

Brits can now ask Amazon's Alexa for health advice. But will privacy concerns stop them?

The British government announced Wednesday that UK residents can now search the National Health Service (NHS) website using voice commands, raising questions about privacy and data protection.

When Alexa users ask how to treat a migraine headache, or for the symptoms of the chickenpox, the device will respond with answers sourced from the NHS website.

"This information comes from the NHS choices website so is just an alternative way to get information that is already available online via Alexa," said Gemma Cook, a spokesperson for Amazon.

The agreement with Amazon is not exclusive, and the NHS plans to work with other technology providers on similar offerings, a spokesman for the health service, Robbie Gordon, told CNN Business.

UK officials said they hoped that partnering with services like Amazon will alleviate stress on the NHS and doctors by providing reliable information for common illnesses.

The country's universal health care system has been under pressure due to funding shortages and uncertainty caused by Brexit.

EU workers leaving the United Kingdom have contributed to a combined shortage of 210,000 staff throughout the health and social care system, according to a study by recruiter Manpower.

Yet privacy advocates criticized the deal with Amazon, saying it amounts to the government giving its stamp of approval to the Alexa platform just weeks after Bloomberg reported that Amazon had hired people to transcribe Alexa conversations. Amazon told Bloomberg that only a small number of recordings are listened to in order to improve the service.

"Amazon is a company with a worrying track record when it comes to the way they handle their users' data," Eva Blum-Dumontet of Privacy International told CNN Business.

"Our medical information is often the most sensitive data there is about us," she added. "Amazon will have to clarify what steps they plan on taking to protect their users' privacy."

UK regulators have this week proposed heavy fines for Marriott and British Airways after the companies failed to safeguard user data.

And Europe's top court is hearing a case that could wipe out legal mechanisms that allow companies to transfer personal data to the United States.

There is no financial element to the collaboration, Amazon said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 175121

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34937568
Washington23491229
Marion20195299
Clackamas15386204
Lane11591144
Jackson9923127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes712972
Linn416063
Yamhill410175
Klamath349059
Polk344252
Malheur342858
Josephine306362
Douglas304765
Benton273218
Jefferson207032
Coos197531
Columbia154526
Union141624
Lincoln130220
Wasco129128
Hood River112529
Morrow107915
Clatsop8958
Crook88019
Baker85814
Curry5959
Tillamook5813
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3718210

Reported Deaths: 61038
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122899723653
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2947794555
San Diego2749603674
Orange2689624896
Santa Clara1170812013
Kern1078591322
Sacramento1011721646
Fresno1005621646
Alameda853671477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa67019782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41157560
San Francisco36032523
Santa Barbara33896446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29696311
Imperial27987719
Kings22774245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16260239
Santa Cruz15571204
Marin13861226
Yolo13580200
Shasta11677217
Butte11573196
El Dorado9719109
Napa966679
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598663
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada445775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362551
Humboldt358737
Lake340943
Glenn235725
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
Medford
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 76°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 53°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 76°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 76°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 70°
Staying warm this afternoon
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events