Italian DPA Submits Request to Local Health Authority to Provide Information about their Use of Drones to Combat Covid19

Artificial intelligence applications can be used for many purposes, so it is not surprising that there has been a rise in their use during the current global pandemic. Indeed, cameras and drones can be useful to monitor people’s compliance with sanitary measures. However, even when used for this purpose, national and local authorities must ensure that they continue to guarantee citizens’ right to privacy and the protection of their data, especially where processing of health data is concerned.

On September 3rd, 2021, the Garante per la protezione dei dati personali (the GPDP – Italian data protection authority), issued an official request to the local Health authority USL Roma 3, to provide information about its deploying of AI technologies to combat Covid19. Drones were intended to be used to monitor the body temperature of bathers at beaches in Ostia (Province of Rome), for an experiment that had been scheduled for September 4th and September 5th.

Due to the sensitive nature of the data collected, the Italian DPA asked USL Roma 3 to provide, within a week, information about the data that had been processed. The Health authority is therefore required to provide details about the person responsible for the data processing, the reasons for the measures, the reliability of the instruments used, the consequences of the measures for those whose temperature is adjudged to be higher than normal and, finally, the amount of information released to the interested parties and how it will be provided.

This move follows two other similar requests issued by the GPDP which concerned the city of Bari and the province of Roma capitale for their intended use of drones, in particular when used to combat the covid pandemic.

The Covid 19 crisis has created new potential uses for AI technology. These new uses could potentially be harmful to citizens’ privacy and affect data protection. Faced with this new phenomenon, data protection authorities must keep a watchful eye.

Source: “Droni in spiaggia e in città: Garante privacy apre tre istruttorie”, Garante per la protezione dei dati personali, garanteprivacy.it, [https://www.garanteprivacy.it/home/docweb/-/docweb-display/docweb/9696781], accessed on September 6th 2021.

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