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The big one

13 December 2005

This, it seems, is the big one. After the interminable logistics briefings in the Convention Centre yesterday (during which one jet-lagged Fleet Street economics editor complained that he felt "like a pig shat in my head"), today will see 10,000 fishermen, peasants, sex workers, migrants and the generally irate march to within yards of where the WTO’s opening session will be underway.

Before it all kicks off, Our World is Not for Sale - the group that formed round Seattle and continues to be the lynchpin of resistance to neo-liberalism - will brief hacks on the inside. (Their blog is here). Then it's to the streets.

A word in your ear. Amid the raucous banter with the unionists last night, a man who knows the local scene intimately told me he fears a stitch-up. Reports such as those yesterday claiming police had stumbled on a cache of 100 gas masks, he said, were being fabricated in order to tar the entire protest with a brush of violence. The police here are desperate to be seen as China’s liberal neighbours. They may, my source suggested, be preparing to excuse their zeal in advance. 

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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