White Band Man

26 January 2005

I'll spare overmuch description of the event; i've just arrived, and have seen little, as yet. Such as I have resembles a vibrant pile-up, somewhere between Glastonbury and a refugee camp. The big event of tomorrow, and perhaps of the week, seems to be a breakfast meeting. For 12000 people. In a local Football Stadium. At 8:30 in the morning. President Lula - variously described in the programme as hero of the workers and running dog of the neo-liberal hegemony - will be joining this absurdly early gathering before (we think) heading off to join the less glastonbury / refugee camp surroundings at DAVOS. The event is to launch the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, who will be spending the year handing out stylish white bands  (pdf) - think pink ribbons, but different - in support of fair trade, more aid and less debt. Quite how this can be the launch of a group who have been around for six months or so, we're not sure. We'll go and find out tomorrow, and hope someone is providing wake-up coffee in truly global quantities.

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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