Privacy and COVID-19
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) has recently announced that “during a public health crisis, privacy laws still apply, but they are not a barrier to appropriate information sharing.” When governments (i.e., federal or provincial governments) declare formal public emergencies they can be provided broad powers to collect, use and disclose personal information. According to the Guidance, there are also some circumstances under which organizations may collect, use, or disclose personal information without the consent of the individual, including:
if an individual is critically ill or in a particularly dangerous situation, and needs help;
instances where a public health authority has the legislative authority to require the disclosure;
if an organization believes an individual is in contravention of an invoked quarantine order; and
if the use or disclosure is for the purpose of acting in respect of an emergency that threatens the life, health or security of an individual (paragraphs 7(2)(b) and 7(3)(e)), such as if an individual requires urgent medical attention, and they are unable to communicate directly with medical professionals.
For further information, please contact us .
Government of Canada :
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-news/news-and-announcements/2020/an_200320/ (Commissioner issues guidance on privacy and the COVID-19 outbreak – March 20, 2020);
https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/privacy-topics/health-genetic-and-other-body-information/health-emergencies/gd_covid_202003/ (Guidance of March 2020, Privacy and the COVID-19 outbreak).
Government of Québec :
European Data Protection Board:
https://edpb.europa.eu/news/news/2020/statement-edpb-chair-processing-personal-data-context-covid-19-outbreak_en (Statement by the EDPB Chair on the processing of personal data in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, March 16, 2020)
Other resources :