While it is crucial to make clear that data protection can in no way be an obstacle to save human lives, it is equally crucial to reaffirm that the exercise of human rights, and notably the rights to privacy and to data protection are still applicable. Data protection principles always allow for balancing the interests at stake. Convention 108+ sets forth high standards for the protection of personal data which are compatible and reconcilable with other fundamental rights and relevant public interests.
The principles enshrined in several international and national instruments cannot be suspended but only restricted in a lawful manner, and so for a defined limited duration.
Alessandra Pierucci, Chair of the Committee of Convention 108 and Jean-Philippe Walter, Data Protection Commissioner of the Council of Europe insist on the need for personal data to be protected even in the current situation and in the various areas where the measures taken to fight the pandemic and maintain business and education activities can put them at risk.
The Council of Europe has developed a series of recommendations and guidelines that can help governments, authorities, employers, etc. for their decision in the current circumstances.