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Committee drafts Bill on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Contact Tracing App

15 May 2020

The Joint Human Rights Committee drafts Bill to protect personal privacy of data gathered by COVID-19 Contact Tracing App, presents draft bill and calls on Secretary of State Matt Hancock to adopt it as a Government Bill and bring it to Parliament.

Assurances

On Monday 4 May the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care gave the Joint Committee on Human Rights assurances about personal privacy protection in the data collected by the Contact Tracing App.

JCHR in their report 'Human Rights and the Government's Response to COVID-19: Digital Contact Tracing' published on 6th May, called for those assurances to be put into law.

Draft Bill

On Thursday 7 May, the Joint Committee on Human Rights sent a draft Bill to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care which would put his assurances on a legal footing.

Private Members Bill

Today, the Committee have sent the Bill the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg MP, asking that if the Government do not intend to adopt it as a Government Bill, to give permission Harriet Harman MP to introduce it as a Private Members Bill (this permission is needed as there is currently no process for Private Members Bills). In any event, HH will present it as a Presentation Bill, which will allow its introduction on the floor of the house.

The Bill’s provisions include:

  • defining the purposes for which Contact Tracing App data can be gathered
  • prohibiting the use of it for any other purposes
  • setting out who can have access to that data
  • prohibiting anyone else having access to the data
  • setting up an independent Contact Tracing App Privacy Tzar to monitor it and deal with complaints
  • requiring the Contact Tracing Data system’s security against hackers to be certified by GCHQ
  • requiring the Government to report to Parliament every 3 weeks
  • requiring the data to be deleted at the end of the pandemic.

The JCHR believe that this Bill could be enacted by Parliament expeditiously and by agreement in time for the Contact Tracing App rollout.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Committee, Harriet Harman MP, said,

“We cannot rely on the current, failed, mishmash of protections that were never envisaged for this situation. We need new legislation. Government collection of our movements and physical contacts would have been unconscionable before, but now it is happening. Big powers demand big safeguards. The government should not resist their assurances being put into law. Parliament completed emergency legislation for new powers. It can do it now for new protections.”

Further information

Image: CCO