COVID-19

Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing Initiative

According to media sources, an EU consortium led by Germany’s Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute for telecoms (HHI) will soon release software code that can be used to create apps that will help track transmission chains of COVID-19.  The Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (“PEPP-PT”) project comprises more than 130 members across eight European countries, including scientists, technologists, and experts.

The PEPP-PT project has published a manifesto explaining its intention to create “well-tested proximity tracking technologies” that national authorities can use to create their own COVID-19 apps.  According to the manifesto, these technologies ensure “secure data anonymization” and “cross border interoperability”.  The apps concerned would inform users, based on the phone’s Bluetooth signals, whether they have been in the proximity of a person who was tested positive for COVID-19.

National public authorities developing apps on the basis of this software remain free to decide how to inform persons that have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.  The PEPP-PT website states that national cyber security agencies and national data protection agencies will assess the apps that are created using the code released by the PEPP-PT.  EU Commissioner Thierry Breton indicated that the European Commission is also investigating whether an app using the PEPP-PT software would be compliant with “EU values”, reflecting the privacy concerns associated with such apps.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Apps and Websites – The “Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing Initiative” and Guidance by Supervisory Authorities

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, several U.S. government entities have released warnings about a rise in scams and fraudulent activity connected to the outbreak.  In a recent bulletin, the FBI warned of a rise in phishing emails, counterfeit treatments or equipment for COVID-19 preparedness, and fake emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) purporting to provide information about the outbreak.  The FTC, meanwhile, has released not only a general overview of the steps that it is taking to combat scams related to COVID-19, but has also provided a specific list of seven types of COVID-19 scams that it has observed targeting businesses.  More information about these scams, and guidance from the FBI and FTC on how to protect against and respond to some of the most common risks, is below.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Cybersecurity Advice: FTC and FBI Provide Guidance on Cybersecurity Scam Trends and Preventive Measures

On 18 March, 2020, the Hellenic (Greek) Data Protection Authority (“HDPA”) issued guidelines on data protection and COVID-19. With these guidelines, the HDPA aims to provide guidance on the interpretation and application of data protection legislation during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog, we summarise the key points included in the HDPA’s guidelines.

  1. Categorization of personal data

The HDPA draws the following distinction with respect to the types of personal data:

  • data concerning the health status of an identified or identifiable natural person (“data subject”), including whether the data subject has received health care recently, is data concerning the health of the data subject, and, therefore, falls within the special categories of personal data (under Article 9 of General Data Protection Regulation – “GDPR”), which are subject to stricter protection. Examples of types of data related to the health of the data subject include data concerning i) whether the data subject has been infected by the virus or not, ii) whether he or she remains at home due to illness and iii) whether he or she has presented any signs of illness (g., cough, fever);
  • in contrast, other personal data, such as information regardingthe data subject’s recent visits to a foreign country with a high number of COVID-19 cases, or whether one of the data subject’s relatives or colleagues has been infected by COVID-19, does not constitute data related to the health of the data subject. As a result, such data does not fall within the special categories of personal data.

Continue Reading Greek Data Protection Authority Issues Guidelines on Data Protection and Coronavirus

This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued guidance waiving enforcement of certain provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) in response to the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
Continue Reading HHS Relaxes Enforcement of Certain HIPAA Provisions Amidst COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

In order to combat the proliferation of COVID-1, several EU Member States have strongly recommended or required that employees engage in teleworking, rather than attend work as normal. In this context, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (“ENISA”), on March 15, 2020, issued its “top tips for cybersecurity when working remotely”. Some data protection Supervisory

In response to the drastic increase of U.S. employees working remotely, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) have both issued guidance for employers and employees on best practices for teleworking securely.  In addition, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) has provided advice on identifying essential workers, including IT and cybersecurity personnel, in critical infrastructure sectors that should maintain normal work schedules if possible.  Each set of guidance is discussed in further detail below.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Cybersecurity Advice: FTC, NIST, and CISA Release Guidance on Secure Teleworking and Critical Infrastructure Jobs

As scientists work around the clock to gain insights into the Corona virus and how to fight it, public and private-sector stakeholders are in discussions to promote the rapid exchange of scientific data. During these discussions, the GDPR acronym inevitably rears its head and casts doubt over what is lawful. The GDPR and national data

On March 17, 2020, the Executive Committee of the Global Privacy Assembly (“GPA”) issued a statement on data protection in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GPA is an entity representing data protection and privacy regulators around the globe, formerly known as the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (“ICDPPC”).

The GPA

On March 14, 2020, the Italian Government and several trade unions have signed a protocol, which establishes specific procedures for fighting COVID-19 in the workplace.

The protocol also includes provisions on the processing of personal data of employees.  In particular, it provides that employers may subject their employees to pro-active body temperature controls before

On March 10, 2020, the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (“NAIH”) issued guidance on data protection and COVID-19. The NAIH highlights that controllers processing personal data in the context of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 must comply with the GDPR as well as Hungarian data protection law. The guidance applies to public and private organisations, their employees and contractors, as well as other third parties (e.g. clients, visitors). The NAIH emphasises that any kind of data processing under the current circumstances has to adhere to the principles of the GDPR, especially that of accountability.
Continue Reading Hungarian Supervisory Authority Issues Guidance on Data Protection and Coronavirus