Wednesday, 15 April, 2020 - Following a request for consultation from the European Commission, the European Data Protection Board adopted a letter concerning the European Commission's draft Guidance on apps supporting the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This Guidance on data protection and privacy implications complements the European Commission’s Recommendation on apps for contact tracing, published on 8 April and setting out the process towards a common EU toolbox for the use of technology and data to combat and exit from the COVID-19 crisis.
Andrea Jelinek, Chair of the EDPB, said: “The EDPB welcomes the Commission’s initiative to develop a pan-European and coordinated approach as this will help to ensure the same level of data protection for every European citizen, regardless of where he or she lives.”
In its letter, the EDPB specifically addresses the use of apps for the contact tracing and warning functionality, because this is where increased attention must be paid in order to minimise interferences with private life while still allowing data processing with the goal of preserving public health.
The EDPB considers that the development of the apps should be made in an accountable way, documenting with a data protection impact assessment all the implemented privacy by design and privacy by default mechanisms. In addition, the source code should be made publicly available for the widest possible scrutiny by the scientific community.
The EDPB strongly supports the Commission’s proposal for a voluntary adoption of such apps, a choice that should be made by individuals as a token of collective responsibility.
Finally, the EDPB underlined the need for the Board and its Members, in charge of advising and ensuring the correct application of the GDPR and the E-Privacy Directive, to be fully involved in the whole process of elaboration and implementation of these measures. The EDPB recalls that it intends to publish Guidelines in the upcoming days on geolocation and tracing tools in the context of the COVID-19 out-break.