Published On: Sat, Jun 6th, 2020

UK’s COVID-19 health information contracts with Google and Palantir finally emerge

Contracts for a series of coronavirus information deals that a U.K. supervision inked in promptness with U.S. tech giants, including Google and Palantir, and a U.K.-based AI organisation called Faculty, have been published currently by openDemocracy and law organisation Foxglove — that had threatened authorised movement for self-denial a information.

Concerns had been lifted about what is an rare send of health information on millions of U.K. adults to private tech companies, including those with a blurb seductiveness in appropriation information to sight and build AI models. Freedom of Information requests for a contracts had been deferred adult to now.

In a blog post today, openDemocracy and Foxglove write that a information store contracts uncover tech companies were “originally postulated egghead skill rights (including a origination of databases), and were authorised to sight their models and distinction off their rare entrance to NHS data.”

“Government lawyers have now claimed that a successive (undisclosed) amendment to a agreement with Faculty has marinated this problem, however they have not expelled a serve contract. openDemocracy and Foxglove are perfectionist a evident release,” they add.

They also contend a contracts uncover that a terms of during slightest one of a deals — with Faculty — were altered “after initial final for clarity underneath a Freedom of Information Act.”

They have published PDFs of a strange contracts for Faculty, Google, Microsoft and Palantir. Amazon Web Services was also engaged by a NHS to yield cloud hosting services for a information store.

An mention from a Faculty agreement per IP rights

Back in March, as regard about a appearing impact of COVID-19 on a UK’s National Health Service (NHS) took hold, a supervision suggested skeleton for a health use to work with a aforementioned tech companies to rise a “data platform” — to assistance coordinate a response, touting a “power” of “secure, arguable and timely data” to surprise “effective” pestilence decisions.

However a government’s miss of clarity around such large health information deals with blurb tech giants — including a argumentative organisation Palantir, that has a lane record of operative with comprehension and law coercion agencies to lane individuals, such as sustenance tech to ICE to assist deportations — raises vital flags.

As does a ongoing disaster by a supervision to tell a nice contracts — with a claimed tightened IP clauses.

The (now published, original) Google agreement — to yield “technical, advisory and other support” to NHSX to tackle COVID-19 — is antiquated Mar 1, and specifies that services will be supposing by Google to a NHS for 0 charge. 

The Palantir contract, for sustenance of a Foundry information supervision height services, is antiquated as derivation Mar 12 and failing Jun 11 — with a association charging a small £1 ($1.27) for services provided.

While a Faculty agreement — providing “strategic support to a NHSX AI Lab” — has a value in additional of £1M (including VAT), and an progressing derivation date (February 3), with an expiry date of Aug 3.

The supervision announced a devise to launch an AI Lab within NHSX, a digital mutation bend of a health service, usually underneath a year ago — observant afterwards that it would plough in £250 million to ask AI to medical associated challenges, and touting a intensity for “earlier cancer detection, finding new treatments and relieving a effort on a NHS workforce.”

The lab had been slated to start spending on AI in 2021. Yet a Faculty contract, in that a AI organisation is providing “strategic support to a NHSX AI Lab,” and described as an “AI Lab Strategic Partner,” suggests a pestilence nudged a supervision to accelerate a plan.

We’ve reached out to a Department of Health with questions.

Last month, NHS England and NHS Improvement responded to an FOI ask that TechCrunch filed in early Apr seeking for a contracts — though usually to contend a response was delayed, already around a month after a strange request. (The normal response time for U.K. FOIs is within 20 operative days, nonetheless a law allows for “a reasonable prolongation of time to cruise a open seductiveness test.”)

Earlier this month, The Telegraph reported that Google-owned DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman — who has given changed over to work for Google in a process purpose — was temporarily taken on by a NHS in March, in a pro bono advisory ability that reportedly enclosed deliberating how to collect studious data.

An NHSX orator told Digital Health that Suleyman had “volunteered his time and imagination for giveaway to assistance a NHS during a biggest open health hazard in a century,” and denied there had been any dispute of interest.

The latter refers to a fact that when Suleyman was still heading DeepMind a association inked a series of data-sharing agreements with NHS Trusts — gaining entrance to studious health information as partial of an app growth project. One of these contracts, with a Royal Free NHS Trust, was subsequently found to have breached U.K. information insurance law. Regulators pronounced patients could not have “reasonably expected” their information to be common for this purpose. The Trust was also reprimanded over a miss of transparency.

Google has given taken over DeepMind’s health multiplication and taken on many of a contracts it had inked with a NHS — notwithstanding Suleyman’s before insistence that NHS studious information would not be common with Google.


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