10 December 2005

Ah, Hong Kong. A minute island that is bewildering enough already. To the added bewilderment of almost everyone involved, the WTO is coming to town. Over 9,000 police officers - almost one per protester - are braced for massive demonstrations. This is Seattle and Cancun all over again - only now, we're told, with more at stake. And on a minute island. Trade mandarins tell us that only drastic trade liberalisation will give the world economy the $600bn kick it needs. Protesters (among them scores of dissenting economists and the ever-rowdy Korean farmers) say their strategy is to "derail" negotiations they see as promulgating massive job losses and hunger in the south for the benefit of bloated corporations in the north.

Your humble correspondent will endeavour to keep you abreast of events as they unfold, or, more likely, unravel. I also hope to unpick some of the WTO's more opaque jargon and will file reports on Monday - after Sunday’s opening rally - and on the following Monday, when, bloodshot and baffled, delegates and demonstrators will emerge from suites and cells and contemplate the fruits of their labour. Now, where's my gum shield...

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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