The UK government has ended Palantir’s NHS data deal. But the fight isn’t over – Open Democracy

The government will also have to earn back trust. The trust deficit is why so few of my neighbours in Brixton, south London, are vaccinated. A lack of trust also caused an uproar over this springs scheme to pool Englands 55 million patient records into a permanent data lake, and to give companies access. Ministers hoped, perhaps, that COVID gave them a political mandate for a data free-for-all, in which companies could be readily let in to play in NHS records. They were wrong. Well over a million people opted out of that scheme, which again after a Foxglove-led coalition threatened legal action has since been kicked into the long grass.

Make no mistake: Palantir is still looking to bid for health contracts in the UK. Anyone concerned about trust in the NHS should join our demand that the firm be kept well away from health care. But the debates to come will be harder. Our government plainly hopes to hop on a tech moguls rocket towards an ever-closer union between Big Tech and the NHS, ripping up critical data protection and procurement laws to get there. Ministers have said they want to open up Englands health data for tech firms to go prospecting for gold in. Whether their standard for public benefit matches yours well, thats a question of trust.

It doesnt have to be this way. Across the NHS, in universities and hospitals, people are forming alternative ideas to an NHS run by and for big tech companies. Broadly, they involve more transparent, locally controlled, public-spirited uses of health data. This will, of course, take a fight. But the public holds more cards than you might think. Its politically very hard to seize peoples health records without their say-so. And when millions opt out of data-sharing, the dataset changes its less useful, and less commercially valuable. If people dont trust the government with the NHS or their health data, three-word slogans like data saves lives wont fill that gap. The millions who have opted out will never opt back in.

A better way is in sight if we demand it. Dont sleep on it you know Palantir wont.

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The UK government has ended Palantir's NHS data deal. But the fight isn't over - Open Democracy

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