An important request from openDemocracy's Chair

David Elstein
12 May 2010

Dear reader

As openDemocracy enters its tenth year as a web magazine we are turning to you, one of our regular readers, for your advice on how we should fund ourselves.

In our first decade we have been mainly supported by many charities and foundations; in our second we believe that we can only survive and grow if you and other readers become our principal funders.

Web publishing is moving towards making users pay for content. But we would never make it a requirement for our readers to pay since this is against our ideals and constituency.

Yet we believe that you and many of our readers would consider a voluntary supporter subscription. We do not need many to underpin our future.

Across the whole site we publish about 20 items a day of which four or five are fully edited articles read around the world. Yet our annual costs are less than £250,000 of which two-thirds goes towards editorial, mainly our dedicated team of five full and part-timers and columnists, and the balance to website and administrative costs including publishing and marketing. Other websites with global readerships cost millions.

I ask you now to consider giving us a contribution of £50 or £100, but at a level of your choice, either once a year or monthly, by clicking here.

Provided you can afford it. By doing so your support will have a double value by ensuring that many of our readers who are not able to pay, especially readers in developing countries, can continue to read openDemocracy without restriction.

As important as your donation, is your advice to us as to how we should fund openDemocracy in the future. Do please email me with your views at [email protected]

Yours sincerely, 

David Elstein


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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