Written evidence from Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, Chair,
Joint Committee on Human Rights (COV0119)

DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING PROTECTIONS: A COMPARISON BETWEEN PROTECTIONS UNDER THE DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING (DATA PROTECTION) BILL AND THE EXISTING SITUATION UNDR THE DATA PROTECTION ACT

 

ISSUE

 

Digital Contact Tracing (Data Protection) Bill[i]

Data Protection Act and (UK) General Data Protection Regulation

1

PURPOSE OF DATA COLLECTION & USE

Data may only be collected and used for the purpose of preventing or controlling the spread of Coronavirus. To do otherwise is a criminal offence.

Provided an individual gives consent to the sharing of their data, there are few restrictions on data collection and use beyond basic data principles, which require data is only processed for the specified purpose (the principle of purpose limitation). The key difference is that the DPA does not require any particular purpose. The Government could decide to use a wide or vague purpose when gaining consent for the app and even change that purpose for future users of the app.

2

WHO HAS ACCESS TO DATA

Data may only be accessed by persons specifically authorised to do so for the purpose of preventing or controlling the spread of Coronavirus.  To do otherwise is a criminal offence.  The specific persons will be listed in an annex to the Act which any member of the public can access.

There are no specific restrictions on data access beyond basic data principles. This could allow personal data to be shared with anyone as long as it is necessary for the stated purposes and not contrary to the consent given by individuals.

3

TIME LIMITS FOR RETAINING DATA,

Data may only be retained in line with published arrangements made in consultation with the Digital Contact Tracing Human Rights Commissioner.

 

Data retention is not subject to any specific or clear time limits beyond basic data principles which require data is kept no longer than is necessary to the purposes it is processed (principle of storage limitation). If the stated purpose is wide (for example for the prevention of future virus outbreaks) then some data could be retained for years or even indefinitely.

4

ANONYMISATION AND DELETION OF DATA

Data may only be retained centrally for as long as needed and must be deleted upon request.

Data held must be anonymised in a way that prevents re-identification when combined with other data.

 

There is no explicit requirement to delete data upon request.

From evidence given to the JCHR, there is ambiguity as to whether data will be used for reidentification (data reconstruction). There is no specific undertaking to ensure that data is not capable of data reconstruction.

 

5

ACCOUNTABILITY TO PARLIAMENT

Government is required to undertake regular reviews (every 21 days) on the efficacy, privacy, discrimination, human rights, complaints and security aspects of digital contact tracing and to report to Parliament on those reviews.

No requirement for reviews, information about the app or reporting to Parliament.

6

SECURITY

National Cyber Security Centre must regularly (at least monthly) review and certify the security of data held.

There is no explicit requirement on data security beyond basic data principles (principle of integrity and confidentiality) which require that the Government ensures appropriate security.

7

TRANSPARENCY

There are specific requirements for the Government to publish information relating to the design, security, ethics and data protection impact assessments relating to digital contact tracing.

There are no explicit or detailed transparency obligations beyond the basic data principles (principle of lawfulness, fairness ad transparency), which require that data is processed in a “transparent manner”.

8

OVERSIGHT & MONITORING

Establishes a Digital Contact Tracing Human Rights Commissioner to oversee and monitor privacy, human rights and discrimination issues related to digital contact tracing

The Information Commissioner has existing powers relating to privacy.  However, these rely on the more flexible controls in the Data Protection Act / General Data Protection Regulation.

9

LEGAL CERTAINTY AND CLARITY

Sets out clearly in law what data will be gathered, for what purpose, who can access, when it will be deleted and what reporting and oversight mechanisms are in place.

There is less certainty as reliance is placed on changing Government policies about what data they are gathering, who can access it, when/whether it will be deleted and has less reporting and oversight

10

STOPPING DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING WHEN NO LONGER REQUIRED

There is an obligation to stop digital contact tracing when it becomes no longer necessary or proportionate for the purposes of preventing or controlling Coronavirus and to delete all data collected.

It is unclear when or how digital contact tracing, and the use of the data collected from it, will end.  There is a suggestion from evidence given to the JCHR that some data could be retained indefinitely.

 

29/05/2020

 


[i] NB All protection in the Digital Contact Tracing (Data Protection) Bill would apply on top of (i.e. in addition to) the protections in the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.