HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Health Data Privacy During Pandemic: Benefiting from Heath Data Without Compromising Health Data Privacy

Jawahitha Sarabdeen (Prince Sultan University), Health Data Privacy During Pandemic: Benefiting from Heath Data Without Compromising Health Data Privacy, SSRN (2021):

Health emergency during COVID-19 caused health authorities and authorized organisations to widely collect, store, transmit and use health data for research and public health purposes. Such use may limit the right to data privacy for the purpose of prevention of spread of decease and protection of public health. The limitation of data privacy, however, should have an appropriate balance. The European Union (EU) member countries are pioneers in implementing better data privacy protection. The EU member countries’ data privacy in general is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Council of Europe 1950), the Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union (CFREU) and Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR). The pandemic created an opportunity to look at the existing EU laws, regulations, and guidelines to understand the proportionate use of health data for public health in case of emergency. In Canada, privacy laws in general are non-harmonized for different categories of entities: private sector, public sector, and health sector entities. In the light of COVID-19, the regulators leaned towards creating exceptions in using, storing, and transmitting the health data for clinical and research purposes internally and internationally. Nonetheless, there is no clear guidance on how the usage is going to be balanced against competing interests. Saudi Arabia has provided protection for personal data in addition to limitation of such protection in case of national and international crisis as well. However, there is no provisions on how the limitation would be exercised and time limit of such limitation. Hence this research will analyse various laws and regulation in EU, Canada, and Saudi Arabia with a view to encapsulating the proposition of standard that could be used in enhancing public health by benefiting from heath data while ensuring acceptable protection of personal health data privacy.

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