Data protection experts publish framework for contact tracing apps

Data protection experts have published a “principled framework” for the development of a contact tracing app to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland.

The document, produced by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) alongside Digital Rights Ireland and independent academics and experts, outlines nine principles for the government to follow to ensure the app aligns with legal and human rights requirements and protects privacy.

The principles include a statutory oversight mechanism for the app and a strict time limit on its operation, as well as full compliance with GDPR requirements including a data protection impact assessment conducted in advance of its launch and trial run.

Liam Herrick, executive director of ICCL, said: “While we live in extraordinary times, we must still ensure that the Irish government does not release or partner on technology that will diminish human rights.

“In order for the government to satisfy its human rights and privacy obligations regarding pandemic surveillance technology, it must ensure these nine principles are adhered to.”

Professor Eugenia Siapera, head of the School of Information and Communications Studies at UCD, said: “Sound digital policy principles require that the HSE consult with a broad range of actors including data protection, academic experts, and end users in order to foster public trust and confidence. Without the public’s trust and buy-in, this app will not be effective.”

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