Privacy rights groups demand transparency over the Government’s Covid-19 database

22/05/2020 News

On Monday, Fair Vote UK joined a coalition of 27+ high-profile digital rights organisations, academics and experts from across the country to sign an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock. 

We are urging Hancock to answer questions about plans to build a sprawling COVID-19 database that would see the NHS partnered with for-profit organisations like Palantir, Faculty, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

There is currently very limited transparency around the partnership and a high risk of abuse.

The letter was written by Anouk Ruhaak of AlgorithmWatch and signed by Big Brother Watch, Echo Chamber Club, Foxglove, Liberty, medConfidential, openDemocracy, Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Rights Group, Privacy International, WebRoots Democracy and others.

“Emergencies require rapid responses, but these responses should also be appropriate, lawful and just.”

You can read the full letter here.

Fair Vote UK and others asked: 

  • How is the datastore financed?
  • What agreements are in place with each private partner?
  • Who has control over the data in these public private partnerships ?
  • For what duration is the data collected and what happens when that period ends? 

There are now lots of privacy concerns surrounding the Government’s COVID-19 response but it is not too late to remedy the situation.

We urge Matt Hancok to quickly address the issues raised in our open letter and we’ll keep you updated on his response.