3 June 2020
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, together with Digital Rights Ireland, academics, and data protection experts, have today published a principled framework for the development of a contact-tracing app to curb the spread of COVID-19. The document outlines nine principles which must be followed if the government is to ensure the app aligns with legal and human rights requirements and protects our privacy.
ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick 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.”
According to the experts, the app’s stated purpose should be so clear that it would rule out the possibility of mission creep and/or abuse, such as sharing information with employers or other third parties. Worryingly, we have already seen positive test results shared with meat factory owners before the patients themselves received them. This is wholly unacceptable and the app developers must provide strong protections against this.
The government should also produce explicit evidence that the app is necessary and also effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Any technology developed by a government or in partnership with third parties demands full transparency including the publication — in advance of its launch and trial run – of the Data Protection Impact Assessment as required by the GDPR. The source code and design spec must also be published, so that data protection experts can determine if our personal data is adequately protected.
The app must have an oversight mechanism that constantly reviews its use and this must be written into law. This legislation and the app itself must be strictly time-limited. All of our personal data must be immediately deleted once it is no longer necessary.
Prof Eugenia Siapera, Head of School, Information and Communications Studies, 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.”
Notes for editors:
Find the principled framework here: https://www.iccl.ie/principles-for-legislators-on-the-implementation-of-new-technologies/
Read our letter to the Minister for Health
Read our letter to the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid19.
Our right to privacy is protected under the Irish Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and various international treaties to which Ireland is party. Where privacy is not protected, fundamental rights such as our freedom to express ourselves, to join protests or to campaign for societal change are seriously threatened. Privacy is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights monitoring organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign for all human rights for everyone.
For comment: Liam Herrick
For media enquiries: Sinéad Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org 087 4157162 and Antóin Ó Lachtnain Director, Digital Rights Ireland +353 87 240 6691