Joint Statement on Data Protection and Privacy in the COVID-19 Response


The United Nations, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP and WHO fortify the adoption of the following joint remark, in line with the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles  followed through the UN System Organizations to fortify its use of knowledge and era in the COVID-19 reaction in some way that respects the proper to privateness and different human rights and promotes financial and social building.

The COVID-19 pandemic has grow to be an international emergency, with devastating penalties in phrases of lack of lifestyles and financial decline, and considerably hampering development towards attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Poor and prone communities are in particular imperiled through this fatal illness and its financial ramifications.

Mounting proof demonstrates that the assortment, use, sharing and additional processing of knowledge can lend a hand restrict the unfold of the virus and help in accelerating the restoration, particularly thru virtual touch tracing. Mobility knowledge derived from other people’s utilization of cellphones, emails, banking, social media, postal products and services, for example, can help in tracking the unfold of the virus and fortify the implementation of the UN System Organizations’ mandated actions.[1]

Such knowledge assortment and processing, together with for virtual touch tracing and basic well being surveillance, would possibly come with the selection of huge quantities of private and non-personal delicate knowledge. This will have vital results past the preliminary disaster reaction section, together with, if such measures are implemented for functions indirectly or in particular associated with the COVID-19 reaction, probably resulting in the infringement of basic human rights and freedoms. This worry is particularly urgent if some emergency measures presented to handle the pandemic, comparable to virtual touch tracing, are changed into same old observe.

The UN Secretary-General highlighted in his coverage transient on human rights and COVID-19 that “Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity.”

Any knowledge assortment, use and processing through UN System Organizations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic must be rooted in human rights and carried out with due regard to appropriate global legislation, knowledge coverage and privateness ideas, together with the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles. Any measures taken to handle the COVID-19 pandemic must even be in keeping with the mandates of the respective UN System Organizations and consider the balancing of related rights, together with the proper to well being and lifestyles and the proper to financial and social building.

Taking under consideration the UN Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles, the UN Secretary-General’s coverage transient on human rights and COVID-19, and related well being and humanitarian requirements, knowledge assortment, use and processing through  UN System Organizations in their operations must, at a minimal:

  • Be lawful, restricted in scope and time, and essential and proportionate to specified and authentic functions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Ensure suitable confidentiality, safety, time-bound retention and right kind destruction or deletion of knowledge in accordance with the aforementioned functions;
  • Ensure that any knowledge alternate adheres to appropriate global legislation, knowledge coverage and privateness ideas, and is evaluated based totally on right kind due diligence and dangers tests;
  • Be topic to any appropriate mechanisms and procedures to be sure that measures eager about regard to knowledge use are justified through and in accordance with the aforementioned ideas and functions, and stop once the want for such measures is now not provide; and
  • Be clear in order to construct believe in the deployment of present and long run efforts alike.

A coordinated and inclusive world UN-wide reaction rooted in cohesion is essential to include the pandemic and reduce its destructive have an effect on throughout the global. Although the remark is aimed to handle the demanding situations of the present COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to function a precedent for the usage of knowledge to answer any long run crises of a an identical scale temporarily and whilst respecting knowledge coverage and privateness.

[1] WHO issued “Ethical considerations to guide the use of digital proximity tracking technologies for COVID-19 contact tracing”. More data will also be discovered at

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