ICO: Use of mobile phone data allowed during coronavirus pandemic

The ICO says that the use of mobile phone tracking data to help fight the coronavirus crisis is allowed.

The ICO’s Deputy Commissioner, Steve Wood, said in a statement on 28 March: “Generalised location data trend analysis is helping to tackle the coronavirus crisis. Where this data is properly anonymised and aggregated, it does not fall under data protection law because no individual is identified.”

“In these circumstances, privacy laws are not breached as long as the appropriate safeguards are in place.”

“The ICO has provided advice about how data protection law can continue to apply flexibly to protect lives and data. The safety and security of the public remains our primary concern. We will continue to work alongside Government to provide advice about the application of data protection law during these unprecedented times.”

The ICO’s move follows attempts for a coordinated approach at the European level to handle the emergency in the most efficient, effective and compliant way as possible. The European Commission has held talks with telecoms operators, a development supported by the European Data Protection Supervisor, Wojciech Wiewiórowski [See PL&B News 27.3.2020].