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Community groups helping vulnerable people in the COVID-19 pandemic and data protection
Advice from Information Commissioner’s Office
Date published: 7th April 2020
North Norfolk District Council is incredibly grateful to the volunteer groups who are helping during the Coronavirus crisis and would like to ensure they are prepared with the right information regarding data protection.
This may be the first time that a newly formed community group has had to think about data protection. Crucially, data protection rules will not stop such groups from helping those in need.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a blog on its website which explains some of the basics of data protection, and gives established community groups, services and charities clarity on how to apply the law in this extraordinary time.
The ICO has also compiled a list of Q&As and has a helpline: 0303 123 1113.
Please look at the ICO blog which provides a template to help community groups write a basic privacy statement (a document about what information is collected, why and how it is stored).
Below is a summary of the set of sensible standards to help community groups handle people’s information responsibly but ensure you read the blog which provides more detailed information to that below and templates:
- Keep it clear – ideally community groups should have a written privacy notice (but if this is going to delay vital support, then groups can just speak to people)
- Keep sharing – with those who it is appropriate to share information with, for example, councils
- Keep it lawful – there are grounds under which you can share and use personal information of individuals, including information which is sensitive (in a special category, for example information about a person’s health or religion). You need to take extra care in these cases. This is detailed in the ICO blog
- Keep it secure – reasonable steps taken to keep the information safe
- Keep it to a minimum – Only use and keep what you need to provide help to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis. When the emergency is over, make sure your group securely delete or destroy any personal information that you no longer need.
- Keep a record - You should keep a record of any decisions you make that involve the use of personal information.
Once again, thank you for all your support at this time, together we will get through this.
Last updated: 9th July 2021