What the papers say

11 December 2005

Saturday's South China Morning Press carries a report headlined: "Fortress Wan Chai prepares for worst." Anything an angry anti-capitalista could possibly lift in the area around the conference centre has been welded to the ground; miles of wire meshing and barricades are in place. The paper's op-eds include a tête-à-tête that will be typical of the week ahead: the World Bank's head honcho for Asia-Pacific salivating over freer trade vs. a former Filipino minister who describes the global trade regime as a "cesspool of distortion". 

The prospect of police over-exuberance has brought a letter from Amnesty to Hong Kong security chief Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, reminding him that "the vast majority of protesters in Hong Kong are expected to be peaceful. Their rights to freedom of association and expression must be fully upheld.”

By contrast, HK Magazine, a slick freesheet distributed outside the Fragrant Harbour’s less salubrious watering holes (cover story: ‘The Empathetic Imp: A Christmas Tale’), includes a helpful A-Z guide for visiting rioters. I quote:

“SKYSCAPERS. Yes, we have lots of them. Yes, they’re really big. No you can’t go up them. No, we don’t understand why either. Yes, one crazy Frenchman even climbed a couple of them. But don’t let that give you any ideas ….

“URBANIZATION. We like it. Can’t you tell?"

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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