Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health and Social Care
39 Victoria Street
Mr Sam Smith
31 October 2019
Dear Mr Smith, Freedom of Information Request Reference FOI-1182708
Thank you for your request dated 10 July in which you asked the Department of Health and Social
Care (DHSC): “Dear Department of Health and Social Care,
This morning the Secretary of State promoted work by Amazon to make NHS information
available via Alexa smart speakers.
We understand there is an agreement in place between Amazon and DHSC/NHS covering some
aspects of this feature
Please provide a copy of that agreement, and any referenced documents within it which are not
otherwise in the public domain (such as an impact assessment or business case for doing any
custom work on the NHS side) ”
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
I can confirm that the Department holds information relevant to your request. A redacted version of
the agreement with Amazon can be found at: https://www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/Notice/919533b2-4d46-4c72-bf2b-4e320cff572e
You will note that a limited number of clauses have been redacted (blacked out) from the
agreement. We consider that this information is exempt under Section 43(2) of the FOIA, which
exempts information where the release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial
interests of any entity, including the public authority holding the information. This information has
therefore been redacted from the agreement that is published on Contracts Finder.
In this case, we consider that the release of the redacted clauses would be likely to prejudice the
commercial interests of Amazon on the basis that it would make public the non-standard terms that
Amazon has been willing to enter into in respect of this agreement. We consider that this would
harm Amazon’s negotiating position when entering into agreements with other parties in the future,
which in turn would be likely to prejudice their commercial interests. Additionally, disclosure of the
redacted clauses is likely to prejudice existing agreements between Amazon and other parties,
which could result in other parties challenging Amazon over the terms and conditions of their
Section 43 is a qualified exemption and, as such, we are required to consider whether the public
interest falls in favour of releasing or withholding the information.
We recognise that there is a general public interest in the disclosure of this agreement given its
high-profile nature and the general obligation of government to act with transparency and
accountability. There is also a public interest in securing the best use of public resources and in
ensuring fair commercial competition.
As mentioned above, the redactions to the agreement withhold certain commercially sensitive
information that is exempt under section 43(2) FOIA, as to disclose that information would be likely
to prejudice the commercial interests of Amazon, both for future negotiations and potentially for
existing agreements with other parties.
In the case of this agreement, there is a general public interest in protecting the commercially
sensitive information from disclosure. We consider that disclosure would be likely to cause third
parties to be reluctant to enter into agreements with public authorities if they knew that
commercially sensitive information contained within agreements could be disclosed and therefore
prejudice their commercial position.
The public interest in the disclosure of the agreement with Amazon is largely focussed on the issue
of sharing personal data. The redacted clauses in the agreement cover unrelated commercial
issues and therefore do not advance the public understanding of the issue of sharing personal
Although there is public interest in understanding the arrangements between the DHSC and
Amazon, we determine that this will have been achieved by the unredacted information about the
agreement that has been published, because of the reasons set out above. It is therefore our view
that the public interest in withholding the redacted information outweighs the public interest in
supplying it. In addition, certain personal information, will also be redacted in the agreement. This
information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of FOIA as disclosure of this personal
information would breach the data protection principles. In particular, we consider that the
disclosure of this personal information would be unfair and breach the first data principle.
If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to appeal by asking for
an internal review. This should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the
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the email address at the end of this letter.
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