What data can and should not be requested under the guise of Covid-19? Interview with the Director of Data Inspection / Article / LSM.lv


            Covid-19 has introduced many changes, also affecting mutual relations.  For example, the amount of news we provide to others about ourselves when needed, and also the information we want to know about the progress of our fellow human beings if it could protect us from getting sick.  Therefore, one of the issues that is still relevant is how this compares to privacy and data protection.            </p><div>
            <p style="margin-left:0cm; margin-right:0cm">The State Data Inspectorate says that recently the question of what may or may not be collected during Covid-19 is no longer as much as in March, April and May.  However, they are still relevant as the situation changes.  For example, at one point the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers provide for requiring confirmation from the educational institution that they have not been in contact, at another moment, no longer provides, but the institution would still like to request them.  Hairdressers also had some rules at first, later others.

Ekaterina Macuka, Director of the State Data Inspectorate, says that the motive at which the privacy boundaries are violated is always in the answer, what is the basis for it and whether it is in the public interest to collect such data.

What can a hairdresser and a boss ask?

LTV: Does the hairdresser or hairdresser request any information, data from the client, or not?

Jekaterina Macuka: The essence is that we need to look at the regulation. At present, an order of the Cabinet of Ministers was in force, which provided for the obligation for those people who provide both hairdressing and tattooing services, for example, to ask for a person’s name and telephone number so that they could be found later. At the moment, there is no such rule, so there is no legal basis to ask anything.

And what about temperature measurement for employees, students, pupils?

It all depends on how you do it. If the employer or the catering company looks at the temperature before entering and says “yes” the temperature is good, please go inside “, then it is possible. If, on the other hand, the employer or any other company that does this also collects this data and then compares the temperatures of the employees, draws other conclusions and uses it for another purpose, then of course it cannot be done.

What about vacations, because now is vacation time? Many have also taken advantage of the situation that they can travel again. Does the employee have to report to the employer where and when he has been?

We need to look at it from a different perspective. At present, both the legislation and the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers on overcoming the consequences of Covid-19 state that if you have returned from certain countries on the red list, you must adhere to self-isolation. Consequently, the employer may warn the employee that if he travels to such countries, he will not go to work afterwards. And if he does violate, then the employer can act accordingly. Claim also to a civil lawsuit, because after that the employer also has a civil law obligation to ensure disinfection of the premises, which is also an expense.

But if this trip, and the self-isolation, falls during the vacation, would the employer then have the right to ask: where were you?

In essence, no, because then all those risks disappear.

What about cafes, restaurants, entertainment venues – can customers be required to register there? And if so, on what terms?

It is always a question of what you will do with this information, for what purpose.

Because knowing that a restaurant has been to that restaurant will not help me or the restaurant fight Covid-19. But in this case, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control is already surveying people who have fallen ill and where they have been. They shall inform the institution themselves. The cafe, restaurant and shop where he has been will be informed accordingly and certain measures will be taken. In addition, there is also an application “Stop Covid” in Latvia, which can also be used, but no one else has to ask for your location.

How secure are the applications?

When it comes to this app, many are still worried about whether my data is still being used. I understand that during its development, it was also agreed with the Data State Inspectorate. What would you deter these people from worrying about, or not, my data being misused?

I have probably mentioned that several times myself

of all the applications on our phones, this is the most harmless application.

First, it does not require the name, surname or date of birth required by many others. In essence, you only provide a phone number, and you also choose to indicate or not. Consequently, we have a so-called decentralized system, which provides for the storage of their data in one’s own telephone. It does not, in essence, read their location as such. It captures contact. But you can’t tell if it was in the center, if it was in a store, or if it was in a particular cafe.

What would be the moment when you would recommend not using the app if, for example, someone else is developing something analogous?

It really depends on the type of application development. Because there were also attempts in some countries in the European Union to develop an application, and then they also read the location, and they recorded not only the contact, but also a specific place. And in this case, there are already risks that information is accumulating somewhere. Not only does that code come into contact with code like that, but it happened there and there. And then accordingly you could track that person.

Of course, Asian countries such as China, Singapore, such applications are also applied to them. But, for example, Chinese applications track not only the location, but the specific name of a surname. Therefore, from the point of view of the European Union, we would not be allowed such an opportunity. And, of course, if someone in Latvia would like to use an application in which it is mandatory to track by name or face, for example, where there are some suggestions that you could capture the faces of face recognition technology, then know if this person is ill, we will investigate all cameras, such a system would already violate the human right to privacy and the protection of personal data.

What about epidemiologists, can a person not disclose any data to epidemiologists?

We need to look here not at the issue of data, but at the law of epidemiological safety. And if we look at it, we probably don’t. Because, in essence, if a person does not say where he has been, epidemiologists will not be able to understand how the disease has spread. Or they won’t be able to warn people to come sooner to get tested and know they’re sick and not stick to other people.

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