The Former Akbar Shah

27 June 2005
tehran10 028

The new Rafsanjani on the cover of Shargh daily

One of the most compelling pictures of this election was forgotten in the middle of the heated discussion in the last days of campaigning.

Rafsanjani, the second most influential person of the contemporary Iranian politics and one of its main founders, went to Tehran university in the last days of the second-round campaigning and, for the first time, was faced with the reality of a democratic process: election campaigning.

Akbar Shah, as many call him jokingly in Iran, had never tried to appeal so much to the average voters. He campaigned as if he was not the veteran politician who had always refused to see himself equal to the publlic. He was always more important than the audience and his famous golden classic chair was a clear sign of this distance.

Now he had to sit down on a regular chair, listen to harsh and open criticism by the angry crowd of students much younger than his grandchildren -- and hold the microphone for them so the audience could here them.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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