Is this a lamppost which I see before me...

4 April 2006

The latest handbags-at-dawn effort from the Prodi-Berlusconi camp was certainly entertaining.  

Gleeful trade-offs (ubriaco! utile idiota!) flooded the floor in the second round of a live televised debate between the premier and the wannabe premier, in the run-up to Sunday's elections. Rival Romano Prodi showed how his fast-talking opponent has influenced him, as he momentarily lost himself in grand Macbeth-esque hallucinations.  He attacked Berlusconi for clinging on to figures and statistics (no doubt including 'numeri' such as his glorious five year office term so far), with all the skills of a drunkard trying to keep himself propped up.

Berlusconi almost leaped across the table. He eloquently slid the insult ball back into Prodi's court, lacing it with keywords including 'cheery parish face' and 'communists'. His equally suave and indignant 'I am the Prime Minister!' retort however may not prove to be his future saving grace - he is still trailing the leadership polls by five percentage points, and as Prodi would have it, may need to sober up sooner than expected.  

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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