IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

NHS faces lawsuit over data deal with "spy-tech" firm Palantir

The Open Democracy suggests that the controversial contract hasn't had any data protection impact assessments

Matt Hancock on the move

The NHS is being taken to court over a data contract awarded to controversial US data firm Palantir. 

The Open Democracy has announced the legal action after a contract extension was awarded to the US "spy-tech" company for long-term analysis of large quantities of public health data

Palantir was awarded an "emergency" contract by the NHS in March to assist in handling the COVID pandemic. The firm was once funded by the CIA and is known for its involvement with defence projects and immigration agencies. 

The Open Democracy is accusing the government of "quietly" giving Palntair a contract extension in December and a "major, long-term" role handling NHS data. The new two-year contract reaches beyond COVID and into areas like Brexit and more, the organisation said.  

There is also a suggestion that this deal has been in the works for much longer. Palantir has spent years courting top UK and NHS officials over cocktail dinners in London, San Francisco and Davos, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

"Emails seen by the Bureau show that discussions between Palantir and NHS chiefs about how the company could work with patient data were underway throughout the second half of 2019, months before the pandemic hit - and indeed that by January 2020, Palantir's London team were already working on a product 'exclusively focused' on the UK's healthcare market," the Bureau states. 

Health secretary Matt Hancock is already facing calls to resign from a number of politicians after a court ruled that his department had not published details of contracts awarded during the pandemic. The health secretary was found to have "breached legal obligations" over the spending of taxpayer money

The Open Democracy said it had a duty to consult the public and users of the NHS before striking "massive deals which affect the future".

Related Resource

Managing security risk and compliance in a challenging landscape

How key technology partners grow with your organisation

How to manage security risk and compliance - whitepaperDownload now

The group also pointed out that data protection impact assessments were critical in ensuing health information and human rights were protected, something they claim the government hadn't done with the Palantir contract.

"Health secretary Matt Hancock and his advisers must have known it wouldn't look good," the Open Democracy wrote. 

In a statement given to IT Pro, an NHS spokesperson said: "The company is an accredited supplier to the UK public sector, the NHS completed a Data Protection Impact Assessment in April 2020, and an update will be published in due course."

Featured Resources

Meeting the future of education with confidence

How the switch to digital learning has created an opportunity to meet the needs of every student, always

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Cloud Pak® for Watson AIOps with Instana

Cost savings and business benefits

Free Download

The business value of the transformative mainframe

Modernising on the mainframe

Free Download

Technology reimagined

Why PCaaS is perfect for modern schools

Free Download

Recommended

What is big data analytics?
Business strategy

What is big data analytics?

8 Jun 2022

Most Popular

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

7 Jun 2022
Attracting and retaining talent through training
Sponsored

Attracting and retaining talent through training

13 Jun 2022
Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack
cyber attacks

Delivery firm Yodel disrupted by cyber attack

21 Jun 2022