UN organisations issue statement on data protection and privacy in the COVID-19 response

The UN, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP, and WHO issued a joint statement on data protection and privacy in the response to COVID-19. The UN organisations support the use of data and technology in a way that respects human rights, including the right to privacy, and promotes economic and social development. While acknowledging that the collection, use, sharing, and processing of data can help limit the spread of COVID-19, the organisations noted that such data collection and processing can lead to the infringement of fundamental human rights and freedoms, particularly when emergency measures, such as digital contact tracing, are turned into standard practice. While the statement is aimed to address the challenges of the current pandemic, it may serve as a precedent in which the UN organisations’ use of data to respond to any future crises at the global level, respecting data protection and privacy.