Challenge to Big Tech commercial interests in healthcare
Privacy International filed a complaint with the UK data protection regulator to obtain the full, unredacted contract between the Department of Health and Social Care and Amazon.
UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
On 19 March 2020, Privacy International filed a complaint with the data protection authority in the UK, the Information Commissioner, against the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) challenging the DHSC’s refusal to disclose the full, unredacted contract between itself and Amazon.
In a Freedom of Information request dated 8 October 2019, PI sought to obtain the contract between the DHSC and Amazon. A redacted version was provided on 5 November 2019. In withholding disclosure of the redacted sections, the DHSC argued that disclosure of the redacted sections would result in prejudice to its commercial interests, as well as Amazon’s.
PI challenged the DHSC’s refusal to disclose before the ICO. In brief, we argued that the public interest in favour of disclosure, particularly in a contract which was likely to facilitate the use of personal data, outweighed the commercial interests of the contractors.
On 26 April 2021, having had sight of the unredacted contract, the ICO decided in favour of PI in relation to a redacted clause which, in its view, did not engage the commercial interests exemption. It ordered for this clause’s disclosure to PI. However, the ICO agreed with the DHSC that the rest of the redacted provisions largely concerned commercial issues, and did not advance the public understanding of the issue of sharing personal data.