On 20 March 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) released a statement on the protection of personal data in connection with measures that public authorities and business organizations (including employers) are taking to address the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This statement is an extension of the statement released by the EDPB chair on 16 March 2020, (which can be accessed here). In its latest statement, the EDPB emphasises that EU data protection law (in particular, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”)) does not stand in the way of measures adopted to fight against COVID-19 – if these measures are necessary, proportionate and consistent with safeguards required under EU Member State laws. The EDPB statement also provides useful guidance for organisations to consider when adopting measures to lawfully process personal data during this time.
Overall, while EDPB statement may provide some reassurance to organizations with respect to COVID-19 measures, organizations will be advised to consider guidance issued by specific EU Member State data protection authorities as well. In particular, specific EU Member State data protection authorities have begun issuing COVID-19 guidance that is, at least in certain respects divergent: while certain data protection authorities are adopting a more restrictive approach (for example, the French CNIL), others are more permissible (for example, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office).