Google Flu Trends spreads privacy concern

Google's new Flu Trends tool, which collects and analyzes search queries to predict flu outbreaks around the country, is raising concern with privacy groups.

Privacy groups have questioned the lack of transparency with the method used to predict outbreaks.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking federal officials to disclose how much user search data the company has recently transmitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, as part of its Google Flu Trends effort.

Google Flu Trends was publicly disclosed in November and has been described by the company as Web tool to help individuals and health care professionals obtain influenza-related activity estimates for all U.S. states up to two weeks faster than traditional government disease surveillance systems.

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