Iran blog launch

12 May 2005

There are 70 million people in Iran. 70% of them are under 30.

In June the world’s eyes will be on Iran as it holds its “democratic” presidential elections. Tapping into Iran’s massive (and massively wired) yoof culture, openDemocracy has launched IranScan, a unique blog written in English for a global audience by a gaggle of top-notch Iranian bloggers, journalists and activists.

Iran Scan 1384 is led by Hossein Derakhshan, the legendary blogger ‘Hoder’. There are an incredible 75,000 active weblogs in Iran. Persian is the fourth biggest language on the web. The kids are getting busy.

My colleagues tell me “Iran Scan will be the place for inside information, breaking news, informed comment, and serious debate about the democratic future of Iran.”

Not to be missed.

But don’t take my word for it. Solana Larsen knows better than I. She’s written a piece about the extraordinary explosion of Iranian blogging that introduces openDemocracy’s Iran Scan project. You can read her informed, optimistic and techie thoughts here.

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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