The cartoon row rages on...

13 February 2006

The cartoon row rages on, increasingly generating more heat than light.  As Neal Ascherson wrote in openDemocracy facts have been in shorter supply than emotion and grandstanding rhetoric in this curiously slow burning affair. Just to recap, cartoons published in September in a small Danish newspaper evoked little response until, after a diplomatic snub by the Danish prime minister a portfolio of offending drawings, including  several that had not been published anywhere -- the most offensive by all accounts -- was toured around the Muslim world to fan the barely glowing embers of outrage. The media have, for the most part, been too busy magnifiying the outrage and reporting the aftermath to practice the old fashioned art of finding out what happened in that four month interlude between publication and demonstration.

Now a blogger has posted an interesting insight. The offending cartoons, he says, were published in an Egyptian newspaper in October. He has posted what he says are images of the original newspaper. Did they provoke outrage? Was the editor sacked? Were there protests in Cairo? None of the above. They were received in an atmosphere of general indifference. If this is true, well done sand monkey.     

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.

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