On April 7, 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) announced that it assigned specific mandates to two expert subgroups to prepare guidance on a number of Covid-19 related topics. The list of topics chosen by the EDPB reflects those that have received the closest scrutiny by the national authorities. These topics are the following:

  • geolocation and other tracing tools, in particular,
    • the use of aggregated / anonymised location data (e.g., provided by telecom or information society service providers) and the effectiveness of aggregation and anonymization techniques;
    • the application of data protection principles to the different means available to gather location data or trace interactions between data subjects;
    • general legal analysis of the use of apps and collection of personal data by apps to help contain the spread of the virus;
    • the required safeguards to ensure respect for data protection principles, including with regard to data retention, in the context of using geo-location or other tracing tools;
    • the identification of recommendations or functional requirements for contact tracing applications; and
    • the necessity to subject the measures taken to a pre-defined timeframe limited to what is strictly necessary to tackle the pandemic.
  • processing of health data for research purposes, in particular:
    • processing for the purpose of advancing scientific and medical research connected to the COVID-19 crisis;
    • the re-use of medical research data connected to the COVID-19 crisis and data sharing; and
    • information and exercise of the rights of data subjects in an emergency situation.

The EDPB’s announcement is not surprising.  On the one hand, it is motivated by the proliferation of private and public-sector initiatives (e.g., telecom operators, payment operators, social media and search engines) to use personal data (health data and location data) to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the EU.  One the other hand, the guidance and statements issued by the different EU Supervisory Authorities on some of these topics have been far from aligned and would benefit from some EU-wide harmonization.  Covington will continue to monitor this and related developments.

Photo of Dan Cooper Dan Cooper

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing…

Daniel Cooper is co-chair of Covington’s Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice, and advises clients on information technology regulatory and policy issues, particularly data protection, consumer protection, AI, and data security matters. He has over 20 years of experience in the field, representing clients in regulatory proceedings before privacy authorities in Europe and counseling them on their global compliance and government affairs strategies. Dan regularly lectures on the topic, and was instrumental in drafting the privacy standards applied in professional sport.

According to Chambers UK, his “level of expertise is second to none, but it’s also equally paired with a keen understanding of our business and direction.” It was noted that “he is very good at calibrating and helping to gauge risk.”

Dan is qualified to practice law in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Belgium. He has also been appointed to the advisory and expert boards of privacy NGOs and agencies, such as Privacy International and the European security agency, ENISA.

Photo of Anna Oberschelp de Meneses Anna Oberschelp de Meneses

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate…

Anna Sophia Oberschelp de Meneses is an associate in the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group.  Anna is a qualified Portuguese lawyer, but is both a native Portuguese and German speaker.  Anna advises companies on European data protection law and helps clients coordinate international data protection law projects.  She has obtained a certificate for “corporate data protection officer” by the German Association for Data Protection and Data Security (“Gesellschaft für Datenschutz und Datensicherheit e.V.”). She is also Certified Information Privacy Professional Europe (CIPPE/EU) by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).  Anna also advises companies in the field of EU consumer law and has been closely tracking the developments in this area.  Her extensive language skills allow her to monitor developments and help clients tackle EU Data Privacy, Cybersecurity and Consumer Law issues in various EU and ROW jurisdictions.