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Coronavirus: contact tracing not a data privacy violation, commissioner says

feature nick cyprus covtracer will become more important once the lockdown eases

Giving the names of contacts to the health ministry’s coronavirus track and trace team does not violate personal data protection laws, commissioner Irene Loizidou Nicolaidou said on Friday.

The personal data protection commissioner issued a written statement following questions she had received from parents and guardians of children who have tested positive for coronavirus but would not pass on the details of their own close contacts or of their children to the track and trace team.

Earlier on Friday, the head of the unit Valentinos Silvestros had told CyBC that 40 per cent of new coronavirus cases this past week were aged under 19. This was up from last week, when the same age group accounted for 30 per cent of new cases and indicative of the spread of infections among teenagers and younger children.

Silvestros said that the team was working hard to trace the contacts of positive cases, but its job was in some cases hampered by parents who would not give the children’s contacts, saying this was personal data that was protected by law.

But in her announcement, the commissioner clarified that the legal framework protecting personal data is not an obstacle nor does it prohibit forwarding such information during the tracing procedure as “absolutely essential data to safeguard the public interest in public health.”

This was the second announcement issued by the commissioner on Friday.  Earlier, and again responding to reports she had prohibited authorities from checking whether SafePass regulations were being adhered to, Nicolaidou clarified that this was not the case.

“I wish to clarify that no ‘prohibition’ has been issued by the office, nor does the legal framework on data protection constitute an obstacle to monitoring implementation of the measures through checks by competent officials and the police, the list of which is included in the decrees and paragraph 2.9 of the latest decree of health ministry of 30/6.2021,” she said.

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