It is the Murdoch Sunday Times, normally part of an organisation dedicated to showing the Tories in the most favourable light possible, that let slip just how seedy and disreputable the current Government has become. Under the less than totally competent stewardship of Matt Hancock, a whole swathe of NHS data - meaning data about you and me - has been not sold to aggressive US companies, but actually given away. For free.
The ST hints at just now big the giveaway is: “Amazon has been handed the keys to a trove of NHS data it can use to develop products to sell internationally without paying a penny to the UK … A government contract, revealed under freedom of information laws, shows the partnership goes far beyond the tie-up with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant announced in July”. Selling the Crown Jewels? Nah, they’ll just give them away.
There is more. “The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said at the time the NHS should “embrace” the technology, saying it would cut pressure on GPs and pharmacists. But the contract shows the American tech giant could access more than just NHS website data”. And here’s the sting in the tail: “The NHS will not benefit if Amazon creates a lucrative new health app”. Worse, “The contract states the Government ‘may not issue a press release or any other publicity in connection with … this agreement … without written consent”.
So the giveaway can only be mentioned by the Government if Amazon allows them to do so. What was that about taking back control and being in charge of our own destiny? Small wonder Rachel Clarke, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, was aghast. “This beggars belief. [MattHancock] has given Amazon access to huge swathes of NHS data to exploit however they choose - for free. The NHS won’t see a penny”.
And she wasn’t finished. “Our NHS is being sold off even as [Boris Johnson] swears blind it isn’t”. Economist James Meadway was on the same page. “This is madness. NHS data is one of the most valuable on the planet, conservatively estimated at £9.6bn annually. Yet this government is *giving* it away, not for the public good, but for private benefit. And Johnson’s US trade deal will make matters worse”. It’s bad. As in seriously bad.
How bad? Carole Cadwalladr of the Observer spelt it out. “Nobody wants our cancer wards. But our NHS data is unique in world. An entire population’s health records from cradle to grave is absolutely priceless. A big data wet dream for US companies. And a dystopian nightmare for us as individuals. This is what is being ‘traded’: us”. Do go on.
“Our most intimate personal data is literally up for sale. That’s what this ‘trade deal’ is. [Toby Helm]’s story [In today’s Observer, read it HERE] shows that it already has been sold. Who to?? How’s it being used? You can *always* re-identify anonymised data. The consequences of this are mind-boggling & terrifying”. She ends with a grim warning.
“When I learned my data was stored in [the] Amazon cloud I began to think about what that meant. I’d gone undercover in an Amazon warehouse. The idea of an aggressive US hyper capitalist having my data made me pause. Today’s stories bring both these elements into sharp focus”. Voting Tory next Thursday means there will be more of this.
As in A Lot More. The Tories are literally selling you out. Don’t let them back in.
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