NHS Data Would Be ‘Safe’ Under Contract, Says Palantir Boss

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Palantir chief says firm would not have access to patient data under controversial contract and only any sale would be decided by government

Patient data would remain safe under an  NHS deal with Palantir, the company’s chief has said, as the firm bids for a £500 million contract to bring data together using AI in order to provide better services.

Palantir chief executive and co-founder Alex Karp told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg that the company would not itself have access to patients’ data.

“The way our product is set up, I don’t have access to your data,” Karp said.

He told Victoria Derbyshire, who was standing in for Kuenssberg, that Palantir is “the only company of our size and scale that doesn’t buy your data, doesn’t sell your data, doesn’t transfer it to any other company”.

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‘Belongs to UK government’

“That data belongs to the government of the UK,” Karp added.

Asked whether the data was at risk of being sold under the contract, Karp said such a decision could only be made “by the UK government, not by me”.

He said the NHS has a “huge problem” with its patient backlog that is “not solvable without technology”.

Karp spoke ahead of a major international AI summit in the UK this week, being held at Bletchley Park, the Buckinghamshire country house that was once home to the UK’s top-secret World War Two codebreaking efforts.

AI ‘leader’

Karp said the summit was “positioning the United Kingdom to be the leader in Europe”.

But he criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to invite China to the table.

“I believe that we are in an arms race and that the world is fracturing and if it was my decision to invite adversarial countries I would not have,” Karp said.