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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 8:13 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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Columbus
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Oxford
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High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next few days. This will keep our area on the dry side and on the unseasonably warm side for this time of the year. We will see most high temperatures well into the 70s over the next few afternoons.
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