Amazon gets NHS Data for free

1 Apr 2016
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United Kingdom

Amazon has been handed the keys to a trove of NHS data it can use to develop products to sell internationally without paying a penny to the UK.

A government contract, revealed under freedom of information laws, shows the partnership goes far beyond the tie-up with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant announced in July.

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said at the time the NHS should “embrace” the technology, saying it would cut pressure on GPs and pharmacists. But the contract shows the American tech giant could access more than just NHS website data.

The $863bn company can access “all healthcare information” gathered by the NHS at the UK taxpayers’ expense, including “symptoms, causes and definitions”. It also gets “all related copyrightable content and data and other materials”, excluding patient data. Amazon can use the information to make, advertise and sell “new products, applications, cloud-based services and/or distributed software” and can share it with third parties.

The NHS will not benefit if Amazon creates a lucrative new health app. A commercial lawyer who analysed the contract said: “The most alarming thing is that Amazon isn’t paying anything for this and the data is very valuable. The NHS is one of the leaders in the world in collecting this data, so it’s incredible really that it is not charging for it.”

The shadow health secretary, Jon Ashworth, accused the government of being “highly irresponsible” and “in the pocket of big corporate interests”. The Lib Dem Brexit spokesman, Tom Brake, added: “It beggars belief that the Conservatives have negotiated the selling off of NHS data for nothing.”

The government declined to comment. The NHS said that although Amazon was granted a worldwide licence, the Alexa service was for UK users only. A spokesman for NHSX, which is behind the digital transformation of the health service, said: “No patient data is being provided to this company by the NHS, which takes data privacy extremely seriously and has put appropriate safeguards in place.”

Amazon said the tie-up only involved content already on the NHS website: “Amazon does not build customer health profiles based on interactions with content or use such requests for marketing purposes.”

The NHS allows third parties such as councils to reuse information from its website but its standard agreements permit use only in the UK. By contrast, the Amazon contract states the licence applies around the world. Several sections have been redacted to protect Amazon’s “commercial interests”.

Eva Blum-Dumontet, of Privacy International, which obtained the contract, said “it was problematic” that Amazon could profit from products it made “using and exploiting” the NHS data. She also said it was “very worrying” that Amazon “gets to control how publicity is worded”. The contract states the government “may not issue a press release or any other publicity in connection with or related to this agreement or Amazon’s use of licensor content without prior written consent”.

Amazon has a market cap near $1 trillion USD. I am sure they could have paid for this but the Tories like giving handouts to deserving multinational corps.

Amazon had sales of £10.9bn in the UK and paid about £15m in corp tax. Sweet.
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:rolleyes: tis a disgrace ;)

thankfully you are on the ball over the caper ;)
I suspect there's more to this than meets the eye, and it may be something that is equally beneficial to the NHS. We know that when you phone your local GP for an appointment you go through a long winded series of messages before being told you are 15th in the queue and will likely be hanging on for a month of Ramadans. One of the messages refers to an online service where a 'diagnosis' and suggested course of action is available.
I would imagine the possibilities with 'Alexa' are endless and could save the NHS a lot of money.
Picture Notch sitting comfortably in his lounge and saying 'Alexa, what ointment do I need to treat these genital warts', Everyone's a winner.
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Notch sitting comfortably in his lounge and saying 'Alexa, what ointment do I need to treat these genital warts',
Answer....leave the Sheep alone Mr Notch...leave the sheep.That is not the preffered use of wellingtons,even in S.Sex.