March 27, 2020

NHS Must Explain Role Of Surveillance Company

PALANTIR HAS NEGATIVE REPUTATION—CAUTION AND TRANSPARENCY NEEDED

Reacting to news that surveillance company Palantir is in discussion with the NHS to “clean” and analyse bulk health data, including tracking of spare beds, ventilators and calls to 111. Open Rights Group and Privacy International emphasised the impact on trust in the NHS's anti-COVID-19 measures this may have, without full transparency and safeguards over the companies’ role.

Palantir’s past work has involved tracking of migrants and provision of espionage tools.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

“Everybody’s goal must be to build trust in the national response to COVID-19.

“Palantir have a poor reputation, as engaging in activities which threaten personal privacy and may lead to other human rights abuses.

“The NHS therefore needs to be extremely cautious and transparent in its dealings with Palantir. They must explain how people’s data may be handled and protected and how they will ensure that Palantir does not acquire or abuse information.

“The last thing that we need as a nation at this time is for ill-thought out arrangements to generate a privacy backlash.”

Privacy International said:

"It's absolutely right that we do everything we can to support the NHS amid this public health emergency, but what does this mean for the long term? In the past, Palantir clients are reported to have faced extreme difficulties accessing the analysis produced by Palantir when trying to end a contract. Vendor lock-in is a real risk here which must be appropriately mitigated."

ENDS

Contact

Jim Killock press@openrightsgroup.org

press@privacyinternational.org
 

Notes

Palantir, a data firm loved by spooks, teams up with Britain’s health service

https://www.economist.com/britain/2020/03/26/palantir-a-data-firm-loved-by-spooks-teams-up-with-britains-health-service

Coronavirus: NHS unveils 'data platform' to track beds, staff and ventilators:

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-nhs-unveils-data-platform-to-track-beds-staff-and-ventilators-11964216

There's a Fight Brewing Between the NYPD and Silicon Valley's Palantir

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/williamalden/theres-a-fight-brewing-between-the-nypd-and-silicon-valley

Palantir‘s past activities: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palantir_Technologies