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Religious candidates triumph in Saudi elections

3 May 2005

A young Saudi blogger, Ahmed, on his experience of the first (municipal) elections in Saudi Arabia in 30 years in Global Voices. He describes how campaign posters bore the only non-blurred pictures of human faces seen on Saudi streets (usually pictures of people are banned by religious decree). Only 7 could be elected from 646 candidates; women were not allowed to vote; and a group of hardline Islamic candidates (the "Golden List") dominated the results. Still Ahmed says: "I was proud to be a part of this historical event". Let's hope it marks the beginning of something better.

There seems to be a lot of disappointment going around about the Islamists winning so big, but what are you supposed to do when a democratic election elects non-democratic candidates? Geoff Mulgan in the FT this weekend reviews a few books that explore this question.

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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