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UNITED KINGDOM Services for developing diagnostic and therapeutic programmes are likely to require anonymised clinical data,16 while services to support hospital logistics and resource allocation are likely to use non-personal operational data such as bed usage and equipment logistics.17 Finding public support for the first type of application is obviously riskier and harder. However, it is also discussed more openly than logistical data, and subject to regulation through the GDPR and the UK’s Data Protection Act.18

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As stakeholders in the NHS and as data subjects, the public give a social license to those who wish to engage with their health data. Their power is embodied as trust, and lies in how that trust is given, and to whom. Signalling the importance of that power, NHSX has been making considerable efforts to respond to public concerns voiced by civil society organisations around the NHS’s COVID-19 contact-tracing app. This is crucial: the British public place considerable trust in the NHS but very little trust in private companies.19 While private actors’ computing power and financial capital far outweighs that of the NHS, public trust cannot be simply bought or programmed. This is particularly the case at a time of health emergency, when effective and prompt intervention relies on the public not simply acquiescing, but accurately following advice. Trust and power Transparency, accountability, oversight and responsible use of data are central to earning public trust. These issues are at the heart of debates around the new deals being struck in the effort to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.20 Public health and pandemic responses are not digital services that consumers can opt in and out of according to their level of comfort with the service provider. The trust placed in the NHS is a product of the professionalism and dedication with which it provides care, all too often in the face of adversity. But trust in healthcare systems is also a product of necessity. When it comes to our health, we may have no choice but to trust the medical advice and care we are given. Dispatches

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Profile for Meatspace Press

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

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