Health and Human Rights
Volume 22, Issue 2, December 2020
From Information to Valuable Asset: The Commercialization of Health Data as a Human Rights Issue
Health data is a valuable source of knowledge that states can use to advance or undermine the right to health. But the sources and use of health data are changing in our emerging global data economy. Novel forms of digitized health information are fueling a booming industry for algorithmic technologies in health care, rendering it a huge source of scientific and commercial value. To date, the tech giants—Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon—are way ahead of public health systems in capitalizing on this value. There is an urgent need for states to recognize the value of health data and use it to advance human rights. Failing to do so risks private actors gaining ever more expansive monopoly powers that threaten patients’ social and economic rights.