With the current concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be very easy to forget the importance of individuals’ privacy and compliance with data protection requirements. Clearly, public bodies and health practitioners will need more than ever to communicate directly with people, and on a more frequent basis.
The JOIC would like to make it clear that the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 (the DPJL) does not prevent such bodies sending public health messages or using appropriate technology to ensure expedient consultations and diagnoses. It is very likely in this current climate that public bodies may undertake a greater level of personal data collection and sharing (including in respect of sensitive ‘special category’ data) to protect against serious threats to public health.
The DPJL provides an explicit condition for the processing of personal data where it is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health. This includes protecting against cross border threats to health and ensuring a high standard of quality and safety of health care or social care. Notwithstanding, any processing of this kind must be necessary and proportionate and carried out with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals in respect of their personal information. The normal requirements of the DPJL apply in the usual way.
The JOIC has always operated in a reasonable, practical and pragmatic way, cognisant of local and global issues that cause public concern amongst our Islanders. With regards to the present situation we find ourselves in, we will take the relevant circumstances into account when assessing compliance with the DPJL.
Our primary concern is for the safety and security of the people of Jersey. Our skilled team are on hand to provide our health professionals with any guidance needed around compliance with data protection requirements. There is more information available at our Data Protection & Coronavirus Information Hub, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the main JOIC number, 01534 716530.