NEWS19 November 2020

UN calls for data protection during pandemic

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GLOBAL – The United Nations (UN) has issued a joint statement insisting nations uphold data protection and privacy during the response to Covid-19 and when contact tracing.

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The joint statement, which was developed by the UN Privacy Policy Group, is based on the UN personal data protection principles and recommendations from the secretary-general’s data strategy.

It recommends that any response to Covid-19 used by member nations be lawful, limited in scope and time, and necessary and proportionate in response to specific and legitimate purposes.

Nations should also ensure appropriate confidentiality, security, time-bound retention and proper destruction or deletion of data used when fighting Covid-19.

Data exchanges must adhere to applicable international law, data protection and privacy principles, and be evaluated based on proper due diligence and risks assessments, according to the statement.

The statement also calls for transparency from national governments to build trust among their citizens about how their data is used during the pandemic.

Measures taken should also cease when no longer required, and be subject to any applicable mechanisms and procedures.

The joint statement follows concerns in some quarters about government use of data for contact tracing, especially in the creation of apps designed to track and trace Covid-19.

Robert Kirkpatrick, director of UN Global Pulse and a co-chair of the UN Privacy Policy Group, said: “We can only defeat Covid-19 with trust, science and solidarity. With the Joint Statement, the UN reinforces its commitment to using data and new technologies in ways that respect the right to privacy and other human rights and promote sustainable economic and social development.”