Anti-pandemic apps must have legal basis, says commissioner

The use of thermal cameras and apps at work, supermarkets and areas open to the public should have a legal basis, personal data commissioner Eirini Loizidou Nicolaidou has clarified.

In a written announcement, she said her office had received a number of queries regarding the legality of various apps and measures such as thermal cameras in work areas, supermarkets and other areas serving the public.

In all cases, such measures should have a legal basis, she said.

The use of apps and measures which entail processing categories of personal data such as health data is permitted only if provisions of the GDPR (general data protection regulation) are adhered to.

Regarding thermal cameras, she said there were various types and they do not all operate in the same way. That is why those in charge of processing the data should be aware of the technical capacity and what data is collected before installing them.

Data protection authorities have said that the use of some measures to combat the pandemic are justified provided these are in line with the GDPR.

However the pandemic cannot serve as an excuse to use apps which violate the right to privacy, family life and private data, she added.

Regarding phone apps, the European Data Protection Board has adopted guidelines and those processing data from such apps should read these carefully.

Among other these stress that there must a legal basis as well as compliance with the basic principles of GDPR. Individuals whose data is being processes must have transparent information on the purpose for which this is being done.

Moreover, safety measures and policies should be force to ensure confidentiality and the use of such apps must be duly substantiated.


By Bouli Hadjioannou, 27 APRIL 2020