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Google has been exploring creative ways to protect sensitive health data, even as it has drawn criticism and federal scrutiny over the possibility its employees had access to identifiable patient information from one of the nation’s largest hospital systems.

The tech giant’s researchers described their work in a recent paper, but also candidly laid out the magnitude of one of the biggest challenges facing health care: Even their best efforts to de-identify health data, or to render it anonymous, would leave some people exposed.

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