The federal government has dedicated to not prolong Palantir’s £23m contract past Covid-19 makes use of with out consulting the general public, a legislation agency campaigning for transparency on authorities contracts has mentioned.
US tech agency Palantir was awarded the two-year contract to proceed its work on the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer in December 2020 below the Crown Industrial Providers G-Cloud 11 Framework, which doesn’t require a young to be printed.
Following the contract award, Foxglove Authorized and openDemocracy introduced a judicial evaluation in opposition to the Division of Well being and Social Care (DHSC), the federal government physique accountable for awarding the contract, over what they labelled a “secret” deal that required higher transparency.
Foxglove and openDemocracy have immediately introduced the federal government “conceded” it could not provide Palantir a long-term function within the NHS with out public session after receiving authorized filings from the organisations.
It means Palantir will be unable to course of NHS knowledge for non-Covid functions with out session together with public juries. Knowledge safety influence assessments (DPIAs) can even be required for any contract extension to analyse whether or not it could be in compliance with knowledge safety legal guidelines.
Foxglove Authorized and openDemocracy have campaigned for transparency surrounding offers between the NHS and massive tech corporations, together with Palantir’s contract with the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer, because the contracts have been first awarded as early as March 2020.
Mary Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief of openDemocracy, mentioned: “After months of authorized battles for transparency over these large NHS knowledge offers, we’re glad the UK authorities has lastly admitted it had no enterprise putting in a controversial ‘spy tech’ agency like Palantir completely in our NHS with out asking individuals first.
“We’re delighted that the federal government has given up on this crucial level, however there’s nonetheless work to do. Deep issues stay about whether or not Palantir, with its chequered historical past and shut ties to the safety companies, will undermine belief within the NHS – and harm public well being consequently.”
Other than NHS contracts, Palantir was drafted in to supervise the UK’s post-Brexit border and customs knowledge. The agency’s partnership with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the division charged with deporting undocumented migrants, has additionally sparked concern amongst privateness campaigners.
The agency’s £23m NHS contract commenced on 12 December 2020 and confirmed the continued use of Palantir’s Foundry knowledge administration platform within the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer till December 2022. The Knowledge Retailer was established in March 2020 to handle Covid-19 knowledge to tell the federal government’s response to the virus.
Components of the contract have been redacted, together with sections titled “restrict of events’ legal responsibility” and “knowledge integration and analytics functionality for self-service” which particularly covers what number of “authorised customers” are permitted to create and modify instruments designed utilizing the information.
A second part about “authorised consumer teams” was additionally redacted.
The contract will seemingly outlast the anticipated finish of the pandemic and raises questions on using Covid-19 emergency measures put in place earlier in 2020, openDeomcracy and Foxglove mentioned in a joint assertion following the contract award.
The Division of Well being has been contacted for remark.
The Knowledge Retailer
Palantir was contracted in March 2020 to assist develop the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer for a charge of £1. The contract was because of expire in June however was prolonged for 4 months at a price of £1million. NHS England later revealed it was in search of a provider to proceed work on the shop on the finish of the prolonged contract, with a provider anticipated to be chosen by the top of 2020.
Digital Well being Information first reported in September that the contract might be price as much as £18m a 12 months over five-years, totalling virtually £100m by completion.
Palantir was amongst a set of personal tech corporations employed in March to assist ship the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer and different Covid-19 responses. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and AI agency School all maintain contracts to work on the platform.
The federal government had confronted fierce backlash for failing to publish the unique contracts, together with Palantir’s, and solely did so in June simply hours earlier than proceedings introduced by openDemocracy and Foxglove have been because of begin. In February this 12 months Matt Hancock was discovered to have damaged the legislation by failing to publish particulars of coronavirus-related contracts throughout the required 30 day timeframe.
A latest Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) investigation revealed NHSX chief govt Matthew Gould had “a really optimistic assembly” with the US agency in October 2019, months earlier than the agency secured its first contract to work on the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer.
On 2 July 2019, the night earlier than NHSX was formally launched, Palantir’s UK boss Louis Mosley hosted a meal with chair of NHS England David Prior the place they mentioned potential future makes use of of NHS knowledge, in accordance with emails launched to the Bureau below freedom of knowledge requests.
A privacy notice referring to the NHS Covid-19 Knowledge Retailer states Palantir, and different tech corporations concerned, solely have entry to pseudonymised and nameless knowledge, however issues have been raised about how personal tech corporations might be utilizing NHS knowledge.
A November Nationwide Audit Workplace report on authorities Covid-19 contracts discovered a common lack of transparency and enough documentations round selections to nominate some suppliers, principally referring to PPE and testing companies.