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tv   The Listening Post 2020 Ep 22  Al Jazeera  May 31, 2020 5:33am-6:00am +03

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stench of. water scarcity has become a major global issue the demand is going straight up and the supply is going straight down turning an essential natural resource into a commodity traded for profit just because it's lloyd i mean it's come out be crushed what about the guy that can afford it guys tell me it's water in a new 2 part series out to syria examines the social financial and environmental impact of water privatisation loads of water coming soon. i mean she learned her to record clickable surveillance monitoring her spot fires racket a lot of attention to work for the u.s. government including the cia it's not just about making it easier for all the parties to get hold of your data give me another way of privatizing the n.h.s. . hello i'm richard burton you're watching the listening post working from home here are the coronavirus stories the media elements that we're looking at this week
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the british government gets some outside help from technology companies to take on covert 19 but where will all the health data the personal medical records and up different news anchors identical content amazon delivers a p.r. video when local american newscasts just roll over and run it science reporters have proven their value in covering the pandemic but they're also taking some heat and with so much of the world stuck on pause we'll fast forward to the day and so when we phone the queue and we're allowed. to coronavirus story can be told in retrospect. put yourself in the shoes of the n.h.s. the u.k.'s taxpayer funded public health service you treat around a 1000000 patients every 36 hours and that's pretty pandemic the amount of health data you're now churning out is enormous and you want to harness that data in the fight against covert 90 so you turn to the private sector and get technology
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companies to help you do that seems to make sense but here's the issue companies with checkered histories over data handling start landing those contracts and to date the british government has refused to disclose the contractual terms information does not get any more personal than your health data and in the midst of this pandemic the british public has been left in the dark on where that data is going and what these companies and the government might be able to do with it down the road our starting point this. week is one. this pandemic has attacked populations and the response in country after country has amounted to an assault on privacy. the methods the authorities aided by big tech companies have put in place follow our movements who we meet the privacy story unfolding in the u.k.
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is on another level it's about all the new health data produced by covert 19 the caseload transmission rates the testing combined with the medical records the n.h.s. the national health service already has on its servers such as underlying conditions demographics. it's a giant goldmine of data that when aggregated and deciphered could help the n.h.s. better direct its resources hone its treatments and save lives the core issues are who gets access to that health data and what will they do with it because this goes beyond mere contact tracing and where people have been it hits much closer to home . let's be very clear your medical record is like a fingerprint the sort of takes of the elite detail about an individual health vent. they're all inherently identifying those bents can kick you out from any aggregation of times so the doctor is not and will never truly be anonymous so your
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full health record goal is quote unquote on the record is where is stored 'd in 10 years time there is new research that says if you have contracted culbut 19 you have a 75 whatever percent chance of getting lung cancer a model could be built based on that it calculates risk for insurance so that could later down the line of whether or not you get insurance. or how much you pay for insurance write about what happened with that data. that is unclear and it doesn't help that the u.k.'s department of health has already changed its story on march 28th in assured britain their health data would remain anonymous later it backtracked saying that when that data is shared privacy protection regulations will be followed and implicit admission that it cannot
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guarantee a patient's anonymity that raised alarms as did the government's choice of private sector partners to analyze that data it's hired a company called faculty a british tech firm that worked for the leaf side in the bronx at referendum and has since landed multiple contracts with boris johnson's government and then there's the american data analytics company pallant whose founder is a libertarian donald trump supporter who has said he does not believe freedom and democracy are compatible the name palin tear is a lord of the rings reference to a crystal ball that can see into the future and the past the company was founded by . a silicon valley entrepreneur. one of the founders of. and pounce here ever since its formation has been controversial partly because one of its initial investors was the venture capital home of the cia so you
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know that's always going to put people on alert when it opened as i thought best to you know in a technology company allan's here are not really. there and. that they're assisting the cia in iraq and afghanistan. last year and they became pretty famous for providing data support to immigration and customs enforcement and states and the brutal. deportation and now that there is a global health crisis there's more money in public health in the companies the senate and the question is whether a firm whose bread and butter yours and yours get involved cameron certain. steps and the arab human rights and the u.s. border but that's really kind of business you won as a partner with your most precious asset your national house. the answer to that question could well lie in what those companies are doing for the n.h.s.
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the contractual terms and conditions. but no one in the government is willing to reveal the foia freedom of information requests filed by news organizations and activist groups have been ignored and the office that is supposed to oversee the f.o.i. process and enforce that law says the government can take its time responding given that it's so busy these days. my organization. more than. the government wants to balance the public's right to know what's going on against the business interests. there's no i think enough transparency national anything to do with the. speed at which they have to move initially. data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards. for this company necessarily but when the. procession stated we need
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to know. what has been reported is that talented here is hiring out some of its data specialists to the n.h.s. for about $1.00 per day is that big tax sacrificing for the greater good considerate more of an investment a company position in its white house documents revealed last year that the trumpet ministration was in trade talks with the johnson government and the n.h.s. data was on the table the u.k.'s coronavirus response appears to have accelerated that process and once those tech companies are in the door and have access to n.h.s. servers it will be difficult to get them back again because of what's known as vendor lock in. what is this meant that a government become so dependent on technology wise that you use tree technologies that no other companies can. becomes almost impossible for them to use anybody else
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so every time you want to. buy new technologies and what you've got you're left with no choice but to always go back to the same company the reason why this is problematic you know aside from the fact that you only have one vendor you have to work with is that this bender becomes infrastructural in the sense that a private company provides public infrastructure and there is no sort of democratic oversight the new contemporary or con is run on. people's data is a source of my right. to do not nonprofit not helping people out of the goodness of their heart and so if the n.h.s. is britain's most beloved public and yes arguably the health is the single greatest source of untapped. if we're going to suddenly let data miners
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access that they now have to see to which those companies have access they are not going to be able to restore it or prime target and why is that not. and it's not just yet and the united states on the. palin tear faculty and companies like for offering their data services to countries around the world initially the techniques they developed the models they built were used by everyone from intelligence agencies to politicians to advertise in the fight against the virus they've been utilized to track our movements our interactions our current state of health and now that our medical records are in the mix it's getting personal the technology better work because the price if you value your privacy is still.
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we're discussing other media stories coronavirus related with one of our producers now john hannah who's joel local t.v. stations in the u.s. have been filing stories on the world's largest retailer amazon and its handling of covert 19 in the workplace those pieces have been spoken a similar what is the back story here i have a little hope richard it's at least 11 local news organizations and segments on amazon's health and safety procedures during a pandemic and the company has faced a lot of scrutiny over its failure to protect its employees so this is a legitimate news story but the scripts and the talking points are pretty identical millions of americans staying at home are relying on amazon millions of americans staying at home or relying on amazon millions of americans staying at home are relying on amazon but you know there is a all right there is on companies keeping employees safe and healthy the company is
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keeping its employees safe and healthy turns out that it was actually amazon's p.r. departments who didn't just provide the video but actually wrote the scripts a fact that a lot of these entries failed to mention so this was a bit of free p.r. for amazon p.r. that could really use eyes at least 8 of its employees are reported to have died as a result of the virus and a lot of amazon person out of complaint not just about working conditions but about the fact that the company attempts to silence those who choose to speak out. let's move on to brazil 2nd only to the u.s. now dry with a number of corona virus infections and some of the major media players there have announced that they are suspending very reporting from outside the office of the president in the middle of a health crisis so who's involved and what happened well they are some of brazil's major news outlets including broadcaster globo and the south paolo
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a leading newspaper there and they say that the issue is one of security that supporters of president joe your balls and narrow are getting out of hand now wilson are has waged a war of words against the media ever since coming into office and recently the coverage hasn't exactly been kind but what do you expect we're talking about a president who is cool this virus just a little flu who is actually criticized or mocked reporters for wearing masks whilst the death toll keeps climbing now following months of harassment by a hard core of boston are supporters who have called reporters scum and rats and sellout media they are now saying that they no longer feel safe and that cameras will no longer be rolling outside the president's office now this is like reporters in the u.k. saying that they will no longer show up outside 10 downing street but how long will that who without considering that cheerful scenario is such
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a big part of the covert 900 story in brazil. ok thanks joe. for months now journalists around the world have been on a crash course in reporting on medical science they have a little or no experience in covering a pandemic and we've documented some of the shortcomings in their reporting now we're turning to journalists with some actual credentials in this field science and health reporters in many cases they were the 1st to recognize the dangers of the outbreak in was caught leaving the rest of us to play catch up historically underappreciated and usually under represented in newsrooms science and health reporters now find that their expertise is in demand but their rise to prominence has been accompanied by a new level of scrutiny in the kind of work that they do and their critics are coming out of the woodwork the listening post flow phillips now on science journalism the highs and the lows in the age of coke at 19. or 20
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pm december 31st 2019. hopefully this is nothing out of the ordinary but at permit mail posting about unexplained the mon years in china is giving me cash takes hours flashbacks. boston usa in the last few hours of 2019 helen brown's well senior infectious disease reporter for stat means started tweeting about the reports coming out of. it was something i definitely watching this was something that was setting our home our bills. 12 31 am january 15th 2020 years where we are on the sars like virus found in china still many many questions. 2 weeks later in berlin kind coop fishnet a molecular biomedicine expert and correspondent for science magazine joined the discussion about the still undefined virus it was really becoming clear that the
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pandemic was just not going to be stopped it was clear to everyone what was about to happen. to be fine. you know january 29th. when the government's trying to deny it is going to get the wrong people can get into. starting on spawned. by the end of january health and science journalist video krishna was trying to get the word out in india despite facing significant political challenges because the entire polity was union with only one on the team not it's a new country no longer. needed to find a mate you. know if you gave. 3 science journalists from 3 different countries all sounding the alarm on the virus that would come to be known as coded 19 well before the rest of the world realised what was coming. their readership and online followings have skyrocketed as they've taught you terms like
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flattening the code. they schooled you on the importance of lockdowns a mass testing they've documented the failings of governments to act when the data was that football to see and they know how to deal with scientists in early february helen brown's well challenge dr anthony found many considered to be the voice of reason on the trumpet ministrations coronavirus task force present given everything that's going on the risk is really relatively low. when i look at this fire of. pressure for i kept like there's no. it's not going to stop. and you seem pretty frustrated in that forum one was that. you know i had been hearing for several weeks authorities in the u.s.
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and other countries outside of china saying that they thought that the. outside of china was low and it me 0 sense to me because viruses spreading really effectively from person to person in china so when dr frenchie said that he thought the risk was for the united states at that point at pushed back because it made no sense he did say you know could this become a pandemic absolutely but it felt like they didn't want to alarm people at that point it wasn't can make them it was already you know spreading the united states just had been repeated chi your work has also proven to be prescient an article you wrote back in 2013 included a quote about a bat in china carrying a potential pandemic this was peter dash the researcher that i talked to the quote comes from him so i was just doing my job as a reporter reporting his views so you know if anything he predicted it again and
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again in the in the last 10 years or so when i was doing my reporting this sentence came up from scientists where they were telling me you know it's not a question of if there will be a big pandemic the question is when scientists like peter are crucial for reporters like schmidt because like most areas of reporting science journalism starts with the sources and there are 2 sources that many science journalists have in common the 1st is called prometa it's the place where both brands well and push mit 1st heard about an outbreak in which. it's an online portal where infectious disease experts share and discuss information on unusual health abed's it's not designed for journalists but has become invaluable for many health reporters who have the background to understand the significance of what's on that the 2nd source. these journalists have in common is what they call pre-print. they're kind of testing
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ground for academics a place where they share their research online before it gets peer reviewed and published in normal times a lot of scientists hold that research back play it safe until they're sure of that work because at 19 has changed things scientists are flooding the servers with information they hope will help curb the virus maybe even cure it and some of that material is making it into the headlines when that happens and potentially invaluable but often unverified information reaches the public it can easily end up being misconstrued by both the press and politicians and that i should supposing it were to later say the word could which you could do either through the skin or. in some other way. and i think you said you're going to test those interest rates one of the things that i found tragic about. the stand i make in the coverage of the
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pandemic is how politicized the whole thing has become which side of the divide people on which. this is a misunderstanding of what's going on in certain parts of the country anyhow lightly and i signs nomen not be not traditional and maybe i need has been asking our. population to lie are you. not the or you'll go or a great medicine to lose your unity up with immunity were. common . ground there. god. got a plan. in the country and that's one of the wonderful or do you believe in line with the politics so that it doesn't look back the story goes on lines
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need not go in 10 bills and politicians i don't even know would you look plotless and questioning i mean i'm dismissing the story without actually lending law what's wrong actually that's. one of the reasons the politics tends to trump the science is because that's the way the politicians wanted. to the official say make available it that we think it's scientific experts are usually count numbered by political. reflected also in the press corps coverage a shortage of reporters trying to have science of the story i'm not sure that sanctions need to take the lead but i certainly think they should be you know at the table and i think that is something that also bothers me when i see the press conferences there are a lot of important questions that science journalists you know to ask the political journalists don't know to ask do you have true or people in georgia who are soon going to have a choice about where saddam now from on our getting that tattoo retail businesses
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need a bit of time to shop did a bit of time to prepare to wipe out all the opening of germs but of course prevention title which one does of plan a. presidential order. in by on of the reason it just seems like this press conference would really profit if there were also science journalists there the only body that einstein i'm not buy we don't have access to. i'm not a scientist and on 3 to. we have indeed immediately think with joe at this point does not have a single scientist briefing us and does not have a single science journalist in the audience may not be ok and that's. what they're talking about and the politicians journalists don't will. on the air asking the wrong question. another way to put it rather than dispatching medical specialists to diagnose the biggest story of our time to surgically dissect
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political narratives uncoated 19 most news organizations are sending in the equivalent of family doctors the general practitioners in journalism that's hardly the best use of available resources when the story you're covering is a pandemic. and finally the fact that scientists are predicting that this virus could be with us forever has not stopped people from daring to dream of a post pandemic world thomas roberts is one of them he's a poet from london who try to imagine how this story would be told to future generations in the following video set in the years to come roberts reads a rhyming bedtime story the kind that needs a happy ending and in his poem which he calls the great realisation roberts manages to come up with war will see you next time here at the listening post it was
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a world of waste and wonder poverty in place. but before we understood what hindsight's 2020. you see the people came up with companies to trade across all lines but they swelled and got much bigger than we ever could. we always had our one but now it got so quick. and i think you dreamed of in a day and with a click. you noticed from elise stop talking that's not to say they never spoke but the meaning must have melted and the work life balance broke. but then in 2020 new virus came our way. the governments reacted and told us all to hide away while we all were his mates the fear and all the water. people dusted off their instinct they remembered how smart. they started clapping to say thank you and calling up
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them. and while the cockies gathered dust they would look forward to their run. with the skies less for the voyage as the earth began to breathe the beaches but we knew wildlife scuttled off into the sea. and so when we found the cure and were allowed to come outside we all preferred the world. to one left. but why did it take our lives people to get sometimes you've got to get sick my boy before you start feeling better. a community decimated by cancer fights for the truth to lose through me has cancer or knows someone that lives here that has cancer lines exposes houston's cancer cluster these are the 110 properties that have grown contamination underneath they look dated his book pope and a community it just safely get them down below the little. league.
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lines on down to 0. i really really. well i'm richelle carey and this is al-jazeera bringing you special coverage of the under arrest in the united states over the death of an unarmed black man in minneapolis for a 4th day now there have been violent protests all across the country from new york to los angeles so is night falls across the u.s. curfews are now being enforced and more than a dozen cities los angeles atlanta of portland and denver among those who are supporting movement to try to.


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