The Information Commissioner’s Office’s coronavirus information hub has been established to help individuals and organisations navigate data protection during the coronavirus pandemic. The ICO is one of the organisations that has responded extremely well to the current situation. It has continued to give advice in a detailed and measured way, realised that there will be difficulties, and gives specific guidance to community organisations set up to assist others as a result of coronavirus. Gordon Exall summarises the available guidance.
The hub has useful guidance for those who have concerns about how their data is being used and also for those who have concerns about using other people’s data.
I have concerns about how my data is being used
There are a number of posts here offering advice for individuals about how and when organisations can use your data during the coronavirus pandemic and how to keep your data safe.
‘Coronavirus and my personal data’ – This explains how you can expect organisations and the Government to use your data and handle requests during the pandemic.
‘The use of mobile phone tracking data’ – A statement in response to the use of mobile phone tracking data to help during the coronavirus outbreak. This states that generalised location data trend analysis which is properly anonymised and aggregated does not fall under data protection law.
‘Stay one step ahead of the scammers’ – This blog post goes through the various scams which are being undertaken during the outbreak. It advises that you take a moment before you open an email or proceed with a call to consider authenticity.
I have concerns about using other people’s data
This section of the hub gives advice for community groups, business owners and organisations that are using people’s data during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Data protection and coronavirus – what you need to know’ – This post explains that the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d usually use will need to be considered. It also states that you can tell your staff that a colleague may have potentially contracted COVID-19 and you can share employees’ health information to authorities for public health purposes.
‘Advice for health care professionals’ – Here the ICO give a statement regarding the approach to data protection and public bodies and health practitioners during the outbreak.
‘Community groups and COVID-19’ – A blog post in relation to groups helping vulnerable members of society. This states that groups should be clear with people about what they are doing with their personal information, keep sharing information where they can to help public safety, stay within the boundaries of the law and look after the personal data collected which should be kept to a minimum. It also explains that groups should keep a record of any decisions made that involve the use of personal information.
‘FOI and coronavirus’ – Here it is explained that the ICO will take a measured approach during the outbreak. Although statutory timescales cannot be extended, public authorities will not be penalised for prioritising other areas or adapting their usual approach.