Back in December 2021, journalist Stefan Simanowitz pulled together a long thread alerting people to the risks to our democracy and data privacy from Palantir, the shadowy data, surveillance and genomics firm (whose founder, right-wing, libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel, was a Tump donor and one of the largest donors to the Republicans in the 2022 midterms, donating around £28.5m). Many became concerned about the uses to which their private medical records might be put, and opted out of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research. It was pointed out at the time that Palantir had links to the discredited Cambridge Analytica, the firm accused of scraping Facebook data and using it to influence political outcomes, including the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election in 2016.
Now this same firm looks set to scoop a £500m contract to provide software to link up patient data across NHS trusts in England. This is, of course, an entirely sensible and desirable objective, BUT…
…as Open Democracy reported:
“The deal has faced criticism from campaigners who argue Palantir’s lack of track record in healthcare and its murky links to US and UK spy agencies make it unfit to take on the job.
Questions have also been raised over NHS England’s procurement process for the contract after openDemocracy revealed Palantir was a shoo-in for a separate multi-million-pound contract months before the deal was signed. The company has picked up five NHS England contracts in a row without tender.”
Does this sound all-too familiar from this government with its record of VIP lanes and wasted billions on PPE etc? Even MP David Davis is worried about letting Palantir run the project, pointing out that Palantir got its foot in the door initially by giving away some software. Why did the company do that?
The Conservatives actions show a determination to take the NHS down the privatisation/US health insurance route. Imagine how valuable your data will be when insurers have the information to cherry-pick who and what to cover? And the promises not to sell your data? Well, they might just give it away in exchange for a juicy donation. This is how this government has demonstrated that it is willing to operate.
You can read more about it in Byline Times:
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