The European Parliament’s civil rights chair has called on Europe’s privacy regulators to “immediately adopt clear guidance” on use of smartphone data in tracking the spread of the coronavirus.
Parliamentary civil rights committee chair Juan López Aguilar’s comments add to growing calls for Europe’s grouping of privacy regulators, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), to act as governments across the region increasingly enlist data in the fight against coronavirus.
Last Friday, fellow parliamentarian and civil rights committee member Sophie in ‘t Veld wrote to the EDPB after the Dutch data protection regulator declared that anonymising telecoms data was “not possible.” The majority of European regulators have waved through government plans to use such data on the basis that it is anonymous.
Today López Aguilar increased pressure on the EDPB, calling on the umbrella organisation to immediately issue advice on phone tracking. He said tracking tools being implemented across Europe “could seriously interfere with people’s fundamental rights to a private life and the protection of personal data, and are tantamount to a state of surveillance of individuals … data protection authorities remain fully competent to supervise these processing activities and to enforce EU data protection law.”
Though the EDPB already issued COVID-19 guidance toward the end of March, it said on Friday that it would fast-track guidance on use of location data and anonymization of data; processing of health data for scientific and research purposes and the processing of data by remote working technology.