European Privacy Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic


Webinar | June 17, 2020 | 10:00-11:00 am CEST

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Covid-19 has raised privacy questions around the world but nowhere more so than the EU, which has the world’s strictest data-protection regime. Regulators are scrambling to invoke exemptions to the General Data Protection Regulation, while governments are desperate to roll out new contact-tracing apps, among other measures, to support the lifting of their lockdowns. But those apps also show why they can’t ignore privacy concerns, as they will need buy-in from a majority of citizens if they are to be effective.

In this webinar, MLex data-protection regulation experts Matthew Newman and Vesela Gladicheva will dive deeper into the various changes thrown up by the pandemic, as well as the broader privacy picture over the past six months, including:


  • Contact-tracing apps – We will discuss how Europe is divided between countries that are opting for a Bluetooth-based system under development by Apple and Google, and those such as the UK and France that are opting for home-grown technology. What are the privacy risks for these apps and how are countries balancing these risks against the need to fight the virus?
  • Working at a reduced capacity – How has the pandemic affected data-protection authorities’ investigations and priorities? Vesela will describe the latest developments in the British Airways and Marriott International probes in the UK and the outlook for smaller fines.
  • Covid-19’s impact on EU Internet platform legislation: The European Commission will propose the Digital Services Act this year which will impose responsibility on social media sites for “content moderation.” Covid-19 has put a spotlight on how these platforms have failed to clamp down on misinformation about the virus – from false cures to conspiracy theories on its origin.
  • Broader trends in national data-protection authorities’ decisions, including high-profile cross-border cases involving tech giants including Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. We will discuss the Irish Information Commissioner's Office’s investigations into these cases, as well as online and behavioral advertising. Depending on developments, we’ll discuss why these probes have taken so long and problems with the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism.

Matthew Newman

Matthew Newman

Chief Correspondent, MLex

Vesela Gladicheva

Vesela Gladicheva

Senior Correspondent, MLex

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