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U.K. Health Department to End Data Contract With Palantir

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government is ending a data deal with Palantir Technologies Inc., following criticism from privacy groups about the lack of transparency on how the contracts were awarded to the U.S. data giant.

The Department of Health and Social Care put out a tender in August to shift its Adult Social Care Dashboard away from third-party providers to its own system, built by BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense firm, according to public documents. These said DHSC had until Sept. 30 to transfer the data to this platform before it would have to renew its license with Palantir.

Denver-based Palantir was co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel to provide data analytics and consulting to governments. The pandemic has produced a boom in demand, including from Britain, which hired it primarily to help manage the vast amount of data being complied in response to the spread of Covid-19. The company also has a number of different contracts with the U.K. government, including the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defense.

“The Adult Social Care Dashboard is an add-on to the existing NHS contract and will transition to a month-to-month basis from September 2021,” said a Palantir spokeswoman. “Palantir will look out for further opportunities to work together with DHSC including their upcoming tenders.”

A spokesman for the DHSC declined to comment.

The U.K. government has been criticized for how it handled sensitive data during the pandemic. The NHS allowed Palantir access to sensitive personal data of patients, employees and members of the public, though the agreement required that the data be stripped of personal identifiers or aggregated before being shared.

After lobbying from privacy campaigners, the U.K. government said it would consult with the public before extending contracts between the NHS and Palantir.

The DHSC will no longer have any contracts with Palantir after the transition, according to data available on public websites.

Government documents show Mozaic Services won the tender, which tracks real-time information such as test data, hospital discharges, and available care. The London-based IT consultant’s clients include Aviva Plc, BP Plc and Britain’s National Health Service, according to its website.

(Updates with statement from Palantir)

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