13 December 2005

That, it seems, wasn't the big one. True, Korean farmers rushed the riot police and got a few cans of pepper spray in the eyes. In fact, they might well have broken through, were it not for the scrummage of hacks and snappers blocking their run-up.

Organisers will be disappointed that only 2,000 took to the streets as the WTO's sixth ministerial was getting under way. Nonetheless, there is real power in concerted pressure from the people whose lives are on the line in the Green Rooms of the Hong Kong Convention Centre.

Developing-country negotiators will now be left in no doubt that, if they cave in to their export business lobbies and sign up to slash the tariffs protecting their own workers in exchange for better access to EU and US markets, there will be hell to pay.   

And, had any doubt lingered, it took our chum Walden Bello about 20 minutes to rupture decorum within the centre and lead a silent protest during the opening ceremony. He and 40 interrupted Pascal Lamy preamble to brandish pitchy placards: "The WTO kills farmers" and "Stand up for your countries."

Tension mounts here. With the Koreans vowing to crack their way in to the summit "to talk to our trade delegation" before the week is out, and with the mooted chance of a sudden EU move to cut subsidies in the last 48 hours of the meeting, everything is still in play. 

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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