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The UK Government Could Sell Access To National Health Service Data

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The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), by virtue of the business it’s in, has access and control over some of the citizens’ most sensitive personal data.

Now reports say that a deal the country is seeking to reach with US company Palantir means that this data could be sold – but this would be the decision of the UK government.

This explanation of the situation around the contract estimated at half a billion pounds came from Palantir co-founder Alex Karp. UK Science Secretary Michelle Donelan, meanwhile, is not denying that this data might be up for “use” – but only if patients consent, apparently.

Why anyone would consent to it, is another matter.

The contract Palantir is working to secure means giving the NHS artificial intelligence tools to “improve services.”

As for why Karp insists Palantir’s participation in the deal would ensure that personal data is not sold – another argument is that this company doesn’t do it anyway. This exec also sought to dispel any misgivings by saying that by default, Palantir wouldn’t even have access to the NHS data.

And if you were in the NHS system, you might have thought that your health and other private information belongs to you.

But Karp clarified:

“That data belongs to the government of the United Kingdom.”

And now, what does the owner say it will or won’t do with its “property” – if the government for some reason gets a person’s consent to do as it sees fit?

In an interview, Donelan chose not to call it “sale” – she used the term “utilizing data.” For what?

To enable the NHS to, for example, “tackle some of the biggest diseases that people are facing so they can live healthier, longer, happier lives.”

In a post on X, Donelan also announced 100 million pounds to fund AI solutions to “tackle some of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation.”

And while the current science secretary appears to be successfully parroting herself, the opposition Labour is proceeding seemingly resolutely, but in fact very cautiously, saying that patient data must not be sold to private companies.

What about to other governments, then? So many questions – so little trust.

Some rights groups are already mocking the hypocrisy of the same government saying it is “not in the business of damaging people’s privacy or rights” (Donelan), and introducing “state-sponsored spying on all your private online messages” via Online Safety Act.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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