Information Commissioner replies to Covid-19 privacy concerns

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, has responded to MPs who raised concerns over the government’s approach to data protection and privacy. By Laura Linkomies.

A letter(1), sent on 20 August by a cross-party parliamentary group and organised by the Open Rights Group, accused ministers of paying “scant regard” to privacy concerns and data protection obligations during the pandemic. The MPs said that the government had engaged with private contractors that are not known for respecting rules on processing personal data. The group called for the ICO to take action regarding Test and Trace to establish public confidence.

The Information Commissioner promptly responded to the cross-party group of MPs on 21 August: “I can assure you that the priority of my office throughout this period has been to challenge appropriately to ensure that privacy and data protection rights are upheld; and to do so in a way that does not impede unnecessarily the need to safeguard the public’s health. That applies whether it is a national government programme, a local charity’s shielding support scheme for the vulnerable, or any other matter I regulate.”

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