Coronavirus (COVID-19)—JCHR presses for primary legislation on digital contact tracing

Coronavirus (COVID-19)—JCHR presses for primary legislation on digital contact tracing

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published further correspondence with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, responding to the view that primary legislation is not required in order to build and deliver the NHS contact tracing app as part of the government's response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Hancock did not identify the need for such legislation, maintaining that the measure is 'consistent with the powers of, and duties imposed on, the Secretary of State at a time of national crisis in the interests of protecting public health'. In its response, the JCHR disagrees, calling for primary legislation to be put in place in order to protect human rights. To assist, the JCHR attached a draft Bill to its response.

In its response, the JCHR deems legislation 'necessary', reiterating the findings of its report ' Human Rights and the Government's Response to Covid-19: Digital Contact Tracing', published on 7 May 2020 and describing the current law as 'an unsatisfactory mishmash spread across the GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018, Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights and caselaw on the right to privacy… inadequate to protect the individual from misuse of their data'.

The JCHR recommends primary legislation on this basis, particularly as the contact tracing app 'is a more significant data collection mechanism that anything envisaged' to date. To assist, the JCHR has attached in its response a draft Bill.

Interested parties are advised to monitor the correspondence page for responses.

Source:  Letter (and draft Bill) to Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, regarding legislation for contact tracing for Covid-19, dated 7 May

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