47th Meeting of the Data Protection Officers of the EU institutions and the European Data Protection Supervisor, virtual meeting.
EDPS response to the COVID-19 outbreak
'The outbreak of Covid-19 is affecting our lives at an unprecedented pace. It is testing the resilience of our societies as we respond to this global crisis and try to contain its consequences, both in the short and in the long run'.
Wojciech Wiewiórowski, European Data Protection Supervisor
Covid-19 outbreak is also testing fundamental rights to data protection and privacy. EU Member States, EU institutions and Big Tech companies are trying to explore solutions to tackle the uncontrolled spread of the virus.
In the past weeks, contact tracing apps and data localisation have become a constant topic in the political agenda of the Union. Such technologies may have strong consequences on EU citizens’ lives and lead to growing inequalities.
The EDPS is cooperating with the EU institutions and the European Data Protection Board to ensure fundamental rights to be respected.
As a result, we established a Covid-19 task force to follow developments and to prepare for the future of data protection and privacy after Covid-19 crisis.
EDPS activities and action plan
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the EDPS has decided to activate its Business Continuity Plan. All EDPS staff have been teleworking as of 13 March 2020.
Read more below
- EDPB Response to Ms Scarafia's letter regarding Amazon and COVID-19 (19/05/2020)
- EDPB Statement on the processing of personal data in the context of reopening of borders following the COVID-19 outbreak (16/06/2020)
- EDPB Statement on the data protection impact of the interoperability of contact tracing apps (16/06/2020)
- EDPB Statement on restrictions on data subject rights in connection to the state of emergency in Member States (02/06/2020)
- EDPB Response to the MEP Sophie in't Veld's letter on the use of apps in fight against coronavirus (24/04/2020)
- EDPB response to Mrs Ďuriš Nicholsonová and Mr Jurzyca's letter on common guidance in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemics (24/04/2020)
- EDPB Guidelines on processing of health data for research purposes and on geolocalisation and tracing tools (22/04/2020)
- EDPB Guidelines on the use of location data and contact tracing tools in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak (21/04/2020)
- EDPB Letter concerning the European Commission's draft Guidance on apps supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic (14/04/2020)
- Global Privacy Assembly resources COVID-19
- Digital Solutions to Fight COVID-19 (2020 Data Protection Report), Council of Europe
Blogpost: Carrying the torch in times of darkness
In public health, contact tracing is the process to identify individuals who have been in contact with infected persons. Proximity tracing with smartphone applications and sensors could support contact tracing. It involves processing of sensitive personal data.
What is Contact Tracing?
During epidemics of infectious diseases, such as the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it is important to lower the number of new infection cases and to stop it eventually. Therefore the infection chain of onward transmissions must be interrupted. When those persons known to be infected reveal their recent contacts, other infected persons may be identified, informed and e.g. isolated already early on, even before they become aware of their infection. The process to identify contacts of known cases is called contact tracing.
A person becomes a contact of a primary case by e.g. face-to-face contact within a short distance over some time span, physical contact or spending time indoors together–all within the incubation period of e.g. up to 2 weeks for the coronavirus disease.
To establish the risk exposure in contact tracing, information about the distance between the persons and the duration of contact are important. Close contacts with high-risk exposure may then become subject to different rules or treatments.
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Introductory remarks by Wojciech Wiewiórowski at the committee for European Affairs of the senate of the Republic of France (via videolink).