Tag Archives: artificial intelligence

Is your NHS information being set up for sale AGAIN?

Michelle Donelan: she says she won’t sell off your private NHS data without your consent. How would she go about getting that, then?

Every few years, this comes around.

It was suggested in 2016, and again in 2021, when the public made it very clear that we don’t want our NHS records to be sold to private companies.

Now, US artificial intelligence giant Palantir is saying it has developed systems that can use our data without anybody ever actually seeing it.

I’m not sure I understand how that works!

And that means I think we need more information about it.

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The BBC’s report is very vague:

Palantir is seeking to win a contract to provide AI software to bring NHS data together to improve services.

In what way? Like this, allegedly:

The Federated Data Platform (FDP) is software that will sit across NHS trusts and integrated care systems allowing them to connect data they already hold in a secure and safe environment. GP data will not be part of the national platform.

The software will be ‘federated’ across the NHS. This means that every hospital and integrated care board will have their own version of the platform which can connect and collaborate with other data platforms as a ‘federation’. This makes it easier for health and care organisations to work together, compare data, analyse it at different geographic, demographic and organisational levels and share and spread new effective digital solutions.

The federated data platform is not a data collection; it is software that will help to connect disparate sets of data and allow them to be used more effectively for care.

The NHS is made up of multiple organisations that use data every day to manage patient care and plan services. Historically, it has been held in different systems that do not speak to each other, creating burden for staff and delays to patient care. It also makes it difficult to work at scale and share information.

The Federated Data Platform will provide software to link these NHS trusts and regional systems and give us a consistent technical means of linking data that is already collected for patient care. Clinicians will easily have access to the information they need to do their job – in one place – freeing up time spent on administrative tasks and enabling them to deliver the most appropriate care for patients. GP data will not be part of the national platform.

So, what do you think?

Alex Karp, Palantir co-founder and chief executive, said:

“We’re the only company of our size and scale that doesn’t buy your data, doesn’t sell your data, doesn’t transfer it to any other company,” he said.

“That data belongs to the government of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Karp added: “The way our product is set up. I don’t have access to your data. Our product does not allow you to do that.”

Asked whether the data could be sold in the future. Mr Karp replied: “By the UK government, not by me. I don’t have the ability to do it.”

So, it could be sold, and this system makes it easier for that to happen.

Labour has said it won’t sell off people’s data. And Tory Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has said she won’t sell on people’s private data “without their consent”.

Do you feel reassured? Or do you think the Tories are planning a new way to trick you into giving away your information?


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Automated benefit decisions: Councils are already using machines to persecute benefit claimants

Days after we discovered the DWP is developing Artificial Intelligence to decide whether vulnerable claimants receive benefits – possibly whether they get to live or die – it turns out local councils have been buying similar systems from commercial businesses.

And there’s a serious problem: they don’t work.

According to The Guardian, companies including the US credit-rating businesses Experian and TransUnion, as well as the outsourcing specialist Capita and Palantir, a data-mining firm co-founded by the Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel, are selling machine-learning packages to local authorities that are under pressure to save money.

It seems 140 of 408 councils – more than one-third – have invested in these systems, at great cost. One must presume they expect the savings to come over time.

They provide automated guidance on benefit claims, prevent child abuse and allocate school places.

But concerns have been raised about privacy and data security, the ability of council officials to understand how some of the systems work, and the difficulty for citizens in challenging automated decisions.

North Tyneside council has dropped TransUnion, after payments were wrongly delayed by the computer’s “predictive analytics”.

It automatically processed data about claimants for housing and council tax benefit to determine the likelihood it was fraudulent – “risk based verification”. But benefit claims were wrongly delayed.

Hackney council in east London has dropped Xantura, another company, from a project to predict child abuse and intervene before it happens, saying it did not deliver the expected benefits.

And Sunderland city council has not renewed a £4.5m data analytics contract for an “intelligence hub” provided by Palantir.

These experiences are leading to increasing concern that the use of algorithms – computerised instructions intended to solve problems (or in this case make decisions) is leaving vulnerable people at the whim of automated decisions they do not understand and therefore cannot challenge.

Local authority bosses do not understand how these systems work either, it seems.

And so the injustices creep into the system.

The DWP has told parliament it gathers data from private credit reference agencies, the police, the Valuation Office Agency, the Land Registry and the National Fraud Initiative, which gather information from public and private bodies – but is now declining to update the list, claiming it would “compromise the usefulness of that data”.

So, as public participation charity Involve claims, there is a risk to citizens’ privacy and data security, and the potential for seriously harmful wrong decisions.

Suppose someone falls foul of a wrong decision on their Housing Benefit claim, made by a computer at their local authority.

Wouldn’t the computer at the DWP pick it up and use it against the same claimant in order to invalidate a claim for – say – Employment and Support Allowance?

If so, these machines could put innocent people deeply out-of-pocket – with no explanation and no accountability.

It is a program that can have only one result – disaster. Somebody will die – if they haven’t already.

Source: One in three councils using algorithms to make welfare decisions | Society | The Guardian

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