26 January 2006
The beginning of the World Social Forum in Caracas has been a exercise in expectation meeting reality.  The prospect of a forum that encourages an open dialogue between a diverse group of people has been noticeably marred by disorganization and an inconsistent dialogue.  Navigating the forum is a difficult at best.  The programs delineating the events have become a coveted rarity and obtaining one often means chasing down harried young volunteers and gesticulating wildly for a copy.  At one point a young women suggested that we only need to take a fifteen minute walk away from the center of the forum and there will be a board advertising the panel discussions. 
Another difficulty is presented by the lack of centralization of the various individualized events.  The discussions and workshops are located throughout the city and can be difficult for the novice traveler to find, not to mention time consuming.  You can end up traveling a hour and half to discover that the talk was canceled, or simply lacking in focus. Yesterday a large line formed at the Forum registration center.  After asking several people what the line was for and receiving shrugs in return, it became evident that people were queuing with no idea what was at the end of the line.
They may still be there.

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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