At a glance.
- EU clarifies GDPR requirements for public health data.
- COVID-19 tracker apps gain traction.
- US Office of Management and Budget asks for emergency funds to support remote work and upgrade cybersecurity.
Some clarification on handling data during a pandemic.
The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) has announced guidance, "Statement on the processing of personal data in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak," for handling personal data relevant to public health. "The GDPR allows competent public health authorities and employers to process personal data in the context of an epidemic, in accordance with national law and within the conditions set therein. For example, when processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest in the area of public health. Under those circumstances, there is no need to rely on consent of individuals." Cooley characterizes the EDPB's statement as the adoption of a "pragmatic stance in light of the severity of the pandemic." GDPR does remain in force, the EDPB emphasizes, and it counsels organizations to observe the Regulation's core principles of data minimization and transparency, but the guidance also shows a noticeable deference to national law. By Cooley's count, twenty-six governments have issued their own guidance on data use during the emergency: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
COVID-19 tracking apps gain traction.
The New York Times summarizes some of the national efforts around the world to deploy smartphone geolocation data in the service of tracking COVID-19 exposure and, in some cases, of identifying people who may be breaking quarantine. The Times makes the obvious point that public health officials in particular are willing to sacrifice privacy to epidemiology.
Two of the more noteworthy national initiatives are those in Taiwan, where, Reuters reports, an "electronic fence" has become the next phase in that country's much-discussed and apparently more effective than average response to the pandemic. The fence is intended to monitor compliance with quarantine orders. In Israel, by contrast, the emphasis has been placed on tracking exposure. The Ministry of Health's mobile app, "The Shield," is designed to alert people if they've been close to a known source of infection.
OMB asks for $45.8 billion in emergency funds. Much will go toward remote work and cybersecurity.
The US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has requested $45.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2020 emergency funds to meet unanticipated expenses driven by the need to respond to the pandemic emergency. “The aim of this request is to maintain that capacity and ensure that resource needs created by the pandemic response are met,” OMB's Acting Director wrote to Vice President Pence. MeriTalk says much of the requested funding will go to support telework and associated cybersecurity needs.