On a walk in the woods with my daughter, she climbs a tree and then asks me to catch her. With looks of delight in her eyes, she hurls herself at me believing I will catch her. (And I do.)
When we visit our doctor we expect them to take notes about our visit and keep them on file. If we are referred to a specialist or find ourselves in a hospital, we expect our notes to be available to those caring for us.
We don’t expect information about our health, our health data, to be turned over to a private company specialising in surveillance and working with the CIA and MI5. That would seem odd. That would reduce the trust we have with our doctors.
And yet, this is what is happening here in the UK. The National Health Service is giving patient data to Palantir to manage and analyse. And they are not asking the patients, the general public, if they are alright with this. No, they are just arguing the ‘assumed consent’ clause to do whatever they want.
Trust take years of consistent action to build, but can be destroyed within seconds. My daughter jumps to me from the tree because she trusts me. And the trust plus the thrill is greater than the fear of the jump. We trust our doctors and nurses with intimate and extremely personal details. We trust public health because of the values we believe it has. These values are very different than the values of security, intelligence, and surveillance.
We confuse them at our peril.
Photo by National Cancer Institute
PS. if you are in the UK and would like to keep your health data out of the hands of Palantir, instructions on how to do so can be found here.