Palantir Technologies had a secret plan to deepen its relationship with the UK’s National Health Service without public scrutiny.
The US data-analytics company aimed to buy up smaller rivals that already had an existing relationship with the NHS, according to emails and strategy documents seen by Bloomberg. This approach would hopefully allow Palantir to avoid further scrutiny in working with one of the largest depositories of heath data.
Palantir’s regional head Louis Mosley described the strategy in an email entitled “Buying our way in…!” sent in Sept. 2021, which outlined “hoovering up” small businesses serving the NHS to “take a lot of ground and take down a lot of political resistance.”
Palantir Technologies Inc. signage outside the New York Stock Exchange during the company’s initial public offering in New York, US, on Sept. 30, 2020.
Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
The NHS, one of the world’s largest employers with a recent annual budget close to £190 billion ($208 billion), has become a key client for Palantir. It hired the US tech firm to help with its Covid-19 response, and currently has a £360 million contract coming up for tender -- a deal Palantir is hoping to win.
While Palantir has so far been unsuccessful in buying up NHS suppliers, the documents seen by Bloomberg show how Palantir hopes to deepen its business with a key client, both by making key hires from the NHS and via potential acquisitions.
Palantir has consistently faced criticism in countries including the US and UK from civil liberties groups, who have been concerned by its track record for providing tools to government agencies that help enable broad surveillance of populations, for example by US Customs and Enforcement to find undocumented migrants for deportation. Lawmakers in the UK have also voiced concern over Palantir’s technology.
“Palantir exists to help the most important institutions solve their biggest challenges -- and there are none more important in the UK than the NHS,” Palantir spokesman Ben Mascall said in a statement. “Palantir has already enabled the NHS to improve millions of people’s lives. We want to do more of this and we make no apology for that.”
The spokesman added that some of the language from Mosley’s email was “regrettable” and “not an accurate characterization of our relationship with the NHS.”
Palantir’s spokesman said that the firm works with some of the most respected intelligence and defense agencies in the world, and these institutions continue to trust its software’s capability to protect sensitive data. They said the company was winning NHS business on merit and that its software was world-class and the result of several billion pounds of investment. Its website states that the company “was founded on the conviction that it’s essential to preserve fundamental principles of privacy and civil liberties while using data.”
NHS England spokesman James Kell said the upcoming contract would be awarded through an “open and transparent process” with strict requirements including “ensuring data remains secure and within the NHS.” Eighty-six suppliers attended pre-market engagement events, he said.
Co-founded in 2003 by Facebook Inc. board member Peter Thiel, Palantir quickly won the attention and financial backing of In-Q-Tel, the venture investing arm of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The startup counted the CIA among its first customers, and cultivated an early reputation for secrecy.
Named for the all-seeing stones used in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fictional The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Palantir now counts dozens of US government agencies as customers, with a a significant number in the national security and defense space. Palantir leadership has forsworn doing business in China and other regions not aligned with US interests, elevating the importance of UK deals. However, despite predicting $1.9 billion in revenue for 2022, the firm has struggled to turn a profit. It’s share price is down about 56% so far this year.
According to Mosley’s email to colleagues, suitable UK takeover targets were those with credible leadership, annual revenue of between £5 million and £50 million, and already selling software services to the NHS. Founders would be offered a “v. generous buyout schedule (say 10x, especially if all stock),” he wrote.
Palantir would offer compensation to founders for their equity stake if they shifted all of their services into Palantir’s main data handling platform, Foundry, which was designed to organize data from disparate sources.
“I doubt anybody else is likely to come along and offer them something as generous as we would (we might even be their only real exit option),” Mosley wrote.
Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, Foundry was used by the NHS to track the take-up of vaccines and, more recently, to manage the backlog of patients waiting for elective surgeries. Since 2020, Palantir secured more than £37 million in contracts with the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care, according to public spending tracker AdviceCloud.
One of the companies Palantir sought to acquire, shortly before Mosley emailed his plan, was Beautiful Information, an NHS-private partnership that generates real-time information for hospitals to use for balancing resources with patient demand. Palantir lost out to Canadian health-tech firm VitalHub Corp, which announced it bought Beautiful Information for £1.55 million in January.
“I’m keen to start scoping more acquisition targets like [Beautiful Information],” Mosley wrote, adding that he had “a kitty,” a British term for a pot of money.
Late in 2021, Palantir was also in advanced talks to invest more than £21 million into British data-analytics firm Sensyne, in a deal codenamed “Project Gondor” -- a reference to a fictional kingdom depicted in The Lord of the Rings -- in return for Sensyne using Palantir’s Foundry, according to an internal document seen by Bloomberg.
“There is nothing unusual about a company exploring investments or acquisitions,” Palantir’s spokesman said. He said the company had been approached with “two such opportunities” in 2021. “We declined to proceed with either and have not acquired any companies that work with the NHS,” he said.
Sensyne and Beautiful Information did not respond to requests for comment.
Palantir was also part of a group of several investors that contributed $230 million to support Babylon Holdings Ltd. going public in 2021, as part of a longer-term partnership between the two companies that saw Babylon migrate some of its data to Palantir’s Foundry platform, Bloomberg reported.
Deals and takeovers were only part of Palantir’s approach, however, the messages seen by Bloomberg show. At the same time as the Babylon partnership, Palantir urged industry lobby group TechUK to encourage government agencies to buy commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Foundry, instead of building their own bespoke tools.
A spokeswoman from TechUK declined to comment.
Palantir hired Global Counsel -- the strategic advisory firm co-founded by Peter Mandelson, a British Lord and former leading adviser to ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair -- to help lobby UK government. It also recently hired Indra Joshi and Harjeet Dhaliwal, key figures from the NHS.
Photographer: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
“Global Counsel’s work for Palantir is a matter of public record,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “The relevant declarations to statutory registers and the NHS in relation to this work have been made.”
Critics have challenged the NHS’s lack of transparency over hastily executed deals during the pandemic. Palantir was paid a nominal £1 fee in March 2020 to run a Covid-19 data store to help the NHS allocate resources more efficiently, but has used the work as a case study in pitches for other NHS contracts, according to two senior NHS officials who were not authorized to speak to the media.
Ahead of that deal, Palantir spent months wooing NHS chiefs, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported in February 2021. In December 2020, Palantir was granted a new contract to continue the data-store work in a £23.5 million deal that was not subject to a public tender process.
Palantir declined to comment, but NHS England said in a statement at the time that it had “always acted in accordance with its legal responsibilities.”
Despite hiring Global Counsel, Palantir received criticism from lawmakers over their deepening relationship with the NHS.
“Patient trust is vital to our NHS, so foreign tech companies such as Palantir, with their history of supporting mass surveillance, assisting in drone strikes, immigration raids and predictive policing, must not be placed at the heart of our NHS,” British lawmaker David Davis, a member of the Conservative Party and former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said during a House of Commons debate in June 2021.
Independent media company OpenDemocracy sued the UK government with the support of legal nonprofit Foxglove for awarding business to Palantir without a public tender process. The government agreed not to extend the contract beyond Covid without a public consultation. The push-back continued in Sept. 2021, when the Department of Health and Social Care ended another data deal with Palantir, Bloomberg reported.
Cori Crider, founding director of Foxglove, said there are “real concerns” about whether Palantir offers the NHS value for money, “or whether there is just a ‘shiny dashboard’ thinking infecting some officials.”
It’s not known when the NHS will make a decision for its upcoming £360 million tender. Other potential bidders include major consulting firms as well as large US tech companies.
“Foundry as a piece of software is entirely competent,” said Phil Booth, coordinator of British data-privacy campaign organization medConfidential, adding that he did not have concerns about unauthorized people accessing patient data as that would be “suicidal” for Foundry.
However, he said that Palantir’s history as a “Peter Thiel-backed, CIA-initiated company” could deter patients from sharing their data. “We should get rid of Palantir and build our own open-source software,” he said.
And Sophistry of the magnitude you and others got very mad at Trump for lol.I didn't say it "showed nothing". I said it didn't show genitals, which is completely correct.
Says the person whose having to employ such sophistry to try and score one single point back when you're now at the point of basically arguing a sex toy isn't sexual.Jesus, your complete unwillingness to acknowledge you made a mistake is a bit pathetic.
Except the teachers position and reason for resigning is the school library wasn't allowed to carry said book and others books.Except I.... said I'd treat them the same way. Both in the public library. Sorry, is treating things the same way "inconsistent" now? I thought it was literally the opposite.
According to the article that originally started this she was informed she would be investigated due to a complaint. Then resigned before the investigation finished and was yelling about how she couldn't work under said oppressive restrictions etc etc.She was suspended and then resigned. Your continued ignorance of the actual events that occurred is unsurprising.
Which is from another article, different articles have stated different ranges ad given the sophistry and outright dishonesty going on round it I literally can't tell if 14-18 is the correct one or some publication putting it out there in order to make it seem less serious. Considering prior claims that Lawn Boy contained nothing anyone could find objectionable (because certain publications picked the wrong book as two exist called that) I hope you can see why I'm taking the Dr House approach of everyone lies so go with the worse option as that tends to unfortunately be the true one more often now.TStorm has already pointed out the age bracket for the school is 14-18.
I'm sorry but how is the school budget irrelevant when discussing the idea of books being in a school library, part of the reason the teacher gave for quitting because the school wouldn't allow said books in the school library because the state had banned them from school libraries.Blah-blah-blah. You gonna acknowledge that your bit about the school budget was entirely irrelevant to the events? Because that's what I was addressing, but you don't seem to have responded to it.
Cancel culture has come for Halloween. Obligatory bad taste Niemoller reference. But seriously, the Anti-Fun Brigade going after trick-or-treating is nothing new, this is just the latest coat of paint they've given it.
That sounds like Trumpist talk dear boy.Hmm, not sure about that. The US army needs a colossal funding cut, a complete doctrinal rewrite to commit them to defensive roles, and a huge cultural overhaul (involving a reckoning for those involved in past crimes abroad, and a mass replacement of the top brass/officership).
But abolishment would result in a huge spate of imperialist aggression elsewhere. Russia & China foremost.
Blah blah blah. Its not genitals. That's not "sophistry". It's a fact.And Sophistry of the magnitude you and others got very mad at Trump for lol.
It's like arguing a se doll isn't a naked woman, yeh it's still a se doll though. Jut because it's not real doesn't mean it's not modelled on one.
Never said a sex toy isn't sexual. I said there aren't any genitals. Which is true.Says the person whose having to employ such sophistry to try and score one single point back when you're now at the point of basically arguing a sex toy isn't sexual.
*facepalm*Except the teachers position and reason for resigning is the school library wasn't allowed to carry said book and others books.
So no you're not employing a consistent position when you're so outraged over this incident and on about how awful it is for the state to be so bad to a teacher etc etc As I'd like to remind you that was one of the core elements of this argument and the incident that started the tangent about the content of the book / books themselves.
She was suspended and then resigned. That's just a fact of the case, available from numerous sources already provided.According to the article that originally started this she was informed she would be investigated due to a complaint. Then resigned before the investigation finished and was yelling about how she couldn't work under said oppressive restrictions etc etc.
Its. Not. About. Allowing. Books. In. The. School. Library. No books were removed from the school library. She provided a QR code that pointed them to the public library and the "books unbanned" list, and was suspended for doing so as it was deemed a political stunt.I'm sorry but how is the school budget irrelevant when discussing the idea of books being in a school library, part of the reason the teacher gave for quitting because the school wouldn't allow said books in the school library because the state had banned them from school libraries.
This is kinda sad, though. House is a sad character living in a sad fiction. Like, I distrust the news media as much as anyone, but with the perspective that the world is nowhere near as depressing as the news makes it seem. These news stories want people to think there an intense puritanical and/or fascist purging of the schools going on, when really it's just concerned parents worried about books that were mostly never even intended for a youth audience and are genuinely not school appropriate. At the same time, teachers like the one who advertised the banned books aren't pedophiles trying to ruin the children, they see it as taking a principled stance against the puritanical/fascist purging of the schools that the news told them is going on. If everyone involved understood that they were all trying to do the right thing, there might not even be a conflict here, but conflict is what sells newspapers. (Or worse these days, since they don't even sell the news, they sell out the news to corporate advertising and say whatever gets a free click out of you.)Which is from another article, different articles have stated different ranges ad given the sophistry and outright dishonesty going on round it I literally can't tell if 14-18 is the correct one or some publication putting it out there in order to make it seem less serious. Considering prior claims that Lawn Boy contained nothing anyone could find objectionable (because certain publications picked the wrong book as two exist called that) I hope you can see why I'm taking the Dr House approach of everyone lies so go with the worse option as that tends to unfortunately be the true one more often now.
We're not saying that, though, and neither is the teacher. We're saying she shouldn't have been suspended for merely linking people to a) a nationally recognised list, and b) the local library. And she's saying that it's not possible to do her job in an open and honest manner in an environment where people get suspended for that.These news stories want people to think there an intense puritanical and/or fascist purging of the schools going on, when really it's just concerned parents worried about books that were mostly never even intended for a youth audience and are genuinely not school appropriate.
The teacher should not have been advertising books that aren't appropriate for youth. The teacher, like all of you, was almost certainly ignorant of the content of the books she was promoting, because I don't believe she was really that adamant about putting blow jobs in front of her students. She is one of many people who is under the impression that these are perfectly reasonable books that happen to involve queer people, who thinks the books are being attacked based on bigotry alone, and I can understand her actions from that perspective. But ignorance is not an excuse for behavior, she deserved suspension until she agreed to knock it off, and they didn't even go that far.We're not saying that, though, and neither is the teacher. We're saying she shouldn't have been suspended for merely linking people to a) a nationally recognised list, and b) the local library. And she's saying that it's not possible to do her job in an open and honest manner in an environment where people get suspended for that.
The only one who has consistently and repeatedly got the very most basic facts of the case wrong here is Dwarven. And he's on the "screw the teacher" side, not the side you're bemoaning.
I say this as some-one who was trained as a teacher.We're not saying that, though, and neither is the teacher. We're saying she shouldn't have been suspended for merely linking people to a) a nationally recognised list, and b) the local library. And she's saying that it's not possible to do her job in an open and honest manner in an environment where people get suspended for that.
The only one who has consistently and repeatedly got the very most basic facts of the case wrong here is Dwarven. And he's on the "screw the teacher" side, not the side you're bemoaning.
I'm sorry did you miss the parts where I said I can't say how widespread it is (casting doubt of the panic) and talking about previous such stuff that went on along with independent research I did about the potential lethality of Fentanyl etcLook at you taking fox news at their word. You're either a clown or just the laziest troll. Did you used to try harder? I feel you used to try harder.
It's the signing up to easy unfettered access on a device not exactly monitored a huge amount by parents where the issue comes in. Hell it's a set of devices with far less parental restriction tools than many modern consoles.I enjoy how we keep twisting "Pointed kids to a public library" as some truely sinister shit.