back to article Open letter from digital rights groups to UK health secretary questions big tech's role in NHS COVID-19 data store

A broad-based campaign group has written to UK health secretary Matt Hancock calling for greater openness in the government's embrace of private-sector tech companies contracted to provide a data store and dashboards as part of the NHS response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In March, the government said it would develop a data …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    We know what's best for you

    "(And us) so we don't feel it necessary to answer any of your questions.

    We take the privacy of Britains health data very seriously because ermm it's serious. Trust us, we work with doctors."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We know what's best for you

      "and follow the advice of Science"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We know what's best for you

        "and follow the advice of Science"

        err, I think that should be

        and follow the advice of THE Science

        not just any old science.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The headless chickens have come home to roost!

      The good news is that the smug Hancock set up NHSX, (who are a shower of muppets and tech wannabes) and so this will precipitate his downfall.

      The bad news is that Hancock is flailing around wildly and looking for someone to blame, and is trying to pin this on Public Health England who while not street fighters, are thoroughly competent and decent people. Their science is good although not always welcomed.

      PHE are the good guys in this but have been starved of funds for 10 years and NHSE have not listened to them about pandemic flu and SARS when they repeatedly warned about this and the need for things like separate cubicles in A&E with proper air circulation to prevent cross infection.

      The interesting news is that Gove is being fitted up with a stethoscope and white coat, and will be going into battle as new health secretary - now this will be fun - first health secretary since Kenneth Clarke with the clout to really make change.

  2. Graham Cobb

    Privacy and data ownership are critical for wide support

    As long as Palantir and Faculty are involved I will not be running the app. However useful (or even mandatory) it is. It is disgraceful that such privacy abusers are part of the project.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: I will not be running the app.

      I'm gonna be hopping online tonight to shop for a genuine dumb phone in case I need plausible deniability. My health data is fucking not for sale!!

    2. Saruman the White Silver badge

      Re: Privacy and data ownership are critical for wide support

      I will not be installing this app on my phone under any circumstances, even if they try to make it mandatory. If they try to prosecute me, I'll use the Human Rights Act on the basis that my phone is my private property, and HMG has no authority to tell me what I should, and should not, have installed on it.

      1. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Privacy and data ownership are critical for wide support

        I will not be installing this app on my phone under any circumstances, even if they try to make it mandatory. If they try to prosecute me, I'll use the Human Rights Act on the basis that my phone is my private property, and HMG has no authority to tell me what I should, and should not, have installed on it.

        If they make it mandatory, then you have to find a sneaky way out or hope for mass disobedience to make enforcement impossible. Being private property is no reason for the government not to be able to mess with it - see laws on planning, building work, environmental protection, obscenity, tax, drugs, firearms, wireless telegraphy etc etc.

        "I'll use the Human Rights Act" is easy to write. The magistrate fines you, then you get jailed for contempt or something. You appeal through a succession of courts, but of course you are still locked up. This requires you to gamble half a squillion quid, and you'll get a final decision in five years time.

        First prize is getting your criminal record expunged and your money back, but you don't get you jail time back - second prize is you lose all that money and time.

    3. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Privacy and data ownership are critical for wide support

      I got a letter from some organisation called Natcen Social Research concerning this app.

      It wanted to know if I had a smart 'phone, no. If I had a smart 'phone would I use it, no. Did I trust the government with the information the app would be funnelling back, definitely not. It went on in that vein for a while until finally it asked did I have any opinion about the app? Again no as I had not used it and had no intention of doing so.

      From a tiny straw poll not many people have any faith in the app and its purported use. A lot have downloaded it and a lot have subsequently removed it.

      Anyway a mark 2 is rumoured to be in the works as the current one seems to be a bit fragile and there are reports that the government is working on a plan B and moving closer to the Google/Apple type, so it may be a while before the rest of the country can enjoy the delights of this process.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Transparency is not enough

    Although the GDPR mandates transparency, just telling people that you're abusing them does not constitute genuine compliance even if it seems to fulfil the "letter of the law". The purpose of transparency under the GDPR is to provide data subjects with a basis for challenging processing that infringes their human rights. In the absence of effective mechanisms for redress, transparency alone is useless.

  4. JimPoak
    Big Brother

    The end result

    In last 6 months their has been subtle changes in Tv advertising targeting self esteem and vanity. Advertisers don't take chances unless they have solid evidence they can sell their junk. I'm not surprised the government is reluctant to disclose their objectives as it threatens the so called free market. I envisaged that so much personal data will leak will destroy the quality of life and privacy. Rhinoplasty, Erectile dysfunction and a hole lot of other junk will be cumming our way on Tv and on your phone. The only way people can counter this to develop a healthy distrust and the full and certain knowledge that nobody will able to fix it.

    1. BenDwire
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: The end result

      Erectile dysfunction and a hole lot of other junk will be cumming our way

      Bravo sir! I do hope that was intentional on your part, but if not, well done anyway!

      1. Beeblebrox

        dysfunction and a hole

        Has the amanfromars bot changed it's handle?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    App C*ckup Strikes again

    much like his personal App, that had a laclusture attitude to privacy and security

    the soon to be Ex Health and Social Care Secretary, and his useless amd objectivless quango NHS X

    have created a monster with this App, with the National Data opt-out and his ill judged war on the NHS rank and file

    The NHS has broken and inefficient system thrust upon it, by the Health and Social care act, was thwarted at every turn by a missguided government "Improvements" and "Targets", and had extra pressures piled on it by the withdrawl of services previously provided by Local government, due to "Austerity".

    Oh and brexit didnt help either with 5.5% of its staff comming from other EU countries, and nearer 10% of doctors and 7% of nurses.

    this belies the fact that when staffing vacancies in 2015/16 20% of the new staff were from the EU so that was rapidly increasing, rather than slowly declining as it is now. which is making the staffing crisis even worse.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for Nokia 6310 to come out of mothballs

    Time for Nokia 6310 to come out of mothballs, or maybe a VPN / Firewall APP to block what you don't need to report.

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