"We need better data protection laws passed before the NHS app roll-out"

7 May 2020, 15:47

By Fiona Jones

Human Rights Committee chair Harriet Harman told LBC it is essential the UK passes a data protection law before the national roll out of the NHS contact tracing app.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has voiced concerns about data protection in the roll out the NHS test track and trace app which is currently being piloted on the Isle of Wight.

The committee wants to prevent the use of the app until the government can guarantee proportionality of use and transparency about the protection of human rights.

Chair of the Human Rights Committee Harriet Harman said the lockdown needs to be eased "for peoples' mental and physical health" and the app can help to do this safely, but "it is an unprecedented gathering of personal information."

She said there needs to be protections: "We're suggesting there should be a new law which we can pass on an emergency basis...to give people protection in terms of their data."

Ms Harman suggested the restrictions:

- the government would only able to access data for the Covid crisis
- only certain approved organisations could access this data
- the app would be deleted at the end of the crisis

"That would then reassure people that they can download the app safely in terms of their data protection," she said, "there's no reason for the government not to do that now. They said they'll protect all of these things in which case, why not put it into law?"

Labour MP Ms Harman told Shelagh there was an inquiry last year which found that the UK's data protection law is "really not sufficient...There's a mish-mash of laws and we need a new one."

She said the committee are drafting a bill to help the government protect peoples' data, which she emphasised was essential to pass between the pilot of the app and the roll out.