Digital Transformation Daily Briefing Data & Privacy

The Drum’s Daily Briefing: Vilnius and villains, NHS and big data and Maryland v big tech


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

April 8, 2024 | 5 min read

Our quickfire analysis of the brand, marketing and media stories that might just crop up in your meetings, brought to you today by editor-in-chief Gordon Young.

NHS app

The NHS has access to a huge amount of health data

Don’t Go Vilnius?

Go Vilnius is in the firing line this morning over claims its new tourism commercial did more to confirm negative stereotypes than attract visitors to the capital of Lithuania.

However, the tourism body says the 70-second commercial is deliberately provocative and acknowledges that most Brits view the city negatively as a backward backwater of the former Soviet Union.

It opens with a British man sitting on a park bench, imagining the city as a place where the locals urinate in public and beat each other to death in third-world streets. However, it ends with drone footage showing the real Vilnius… a well-manicured public urban realm, sophisticated restaurants and exciting tourist attractions.

Simonas Rudaminas, a project manager at the foreign ministry’s Global Lithuania program, said it was a disgraceful “slap in the face” that cast Vilnius as a “derelict, thug-filled city.”

However, I am not so sure. The launch has benefited from a huge media profile, which a more conventional approach would never have achieved. And the UK is the home to irony, so will get the joke.

Source: The Times

Maryland takes on big tech

Maryland, one of the smaller US States, has upset big tech with the passing of two sweeping privacy bills that will restrict online platforms from harvesting the use of personal data.

The Maryland Online Privacy Act aims to impose restrictions on how companies collect and use data from consumers in the state. The other act, called the Maryland Kids Code, would prohibit social media, video games and other online platforms from tracking people under 18, as well as restricting them from using manipulative techniques – such as auto-playing videos – to keep them glued to their screens.

With the passage of the bills, Maryland joins other states, including California, Texas and Utah, in passing online protection laws, which is complicating the US market for both tech firms and marketers.

But big tech is fighting back. Over the last year, NetChoice, an industry trade group representing Amazon, Google and Meta, has successfully sued to halt children’s online privacy or social media restrictions in several states. It claimed that the laws violated its members’ constitutional rights to freely distribute information.

But there is no doubt that the Maryland move is just another chapter in a relentless move towards greater regulation of the tech space.

Source: New York Times

Big data and the NHS

The UK’s National Health Service is seen by many as a teetering behemoth that looks set to collapse under the weight of its own complexity.

However, there is one advantage to running a unified service and that is the huge amount of health data it gives access to. The Labour Party says it will leverage this opportunity by digitizing the NHS ‘red book,’ which is used to keep the medical records of children and has been handed out to new parents for the last 30 years.

An augmented NHS app will allow parents to see if their children are behind on jabs and checkups and keep records of past tests and medical histories.

It will also allow the NHS to proactively notify every parent of a child who, for example, has missed an MMR jab, helping to increase immunization rates.

No doubt, some wonder if a future government will be able to resist the temptation of turning apps into Covid-style digital passports. Meanwhile, data scientists will be pondering how such a resource can be used to provide fascinating insights into what issues impact health and healthcare.

Source: The Guardian

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