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Case update 28 March 2024

A win in the fight for transparency over Palantir’s NHS data contract

Palantir’s blanked out contract has now been published with fewer redactions following our legal action, but the future of how our patient data will be used and processed is still unclear.

When Palantir’s controversial contract to process millions of patient records through the new Federated Data Platform was published by NHS England (NHSE), a staggering 417 out of 586 of its pages were completely blanked out. And another contract awarded to biotech company, IQVIA, to deal with NHS data to provide ‘Privacy Enhancing Technology’ for the Federated Data Platform was also heavily redacted.

We took the first formal step of legal action against NHSE because the terms of how our sensitive health data will be handled by private companies should never be hidden from public view.

Following this legal pressure, both contracts have now been published with fewer redactions – including key sections ‘on the protection of personal data’. This means that they are now available for scrutiny by experts and data rights groups.

But this small win is just the first step in our campaign for shining a light over Palantir’s involvement in our NHS. 

In legal correspondence, NHSE made the alarming admission that parts of its contract with Palantir were still being agreed – including a section on the protection of personal data – even after the deal was signed.

We’ve demanded an explanation from NHSE on how it could have run a lawful or fair procurement process when it awarded the contract to Palantir before negotiations had finished.

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And even with NHSE’s latest public update on Palantir’s Federated Data Platform, we have been left in the dark about how it might use and process our identifiable health data as it develops and is applied in different ways in the future. And it turns out the NHS still needs to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment, before any patient records are allowed to be processed.

We’re not against the aims of the Federated Data Platform and the use of tech in our NHS to tackle waiting times and improve patient outcomes. But to have confidence in the new platform – especially with a company like Palantir at the helm – patients need to know where they stand.

We’ll continue to challenge NHSE if it fails to be upfront about its plans for the platform and closely scrutinise the role Palantir will be playing.