Many organizations around the world are restarting normal working routines; from offices, to power plants, to factories, to construction groups. To ensure safe working conditions for employees, some organizations have implemented mandatory temperature checks. However, privacy advocates argue that this may constitute an invasion of privacy, breaching Europe’s GDPR laws.
The rules around temperature checks vary across Europe due to rapidly approved emergency measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, a group of EU privacy regulators published guidelines permitting more relaxed data acquisition practices “for reasons of substantial public interest in the area of public health,” for a limited length of time.
In some European countries, it is permissible to test temperatures, but the data cannot be stored. However, as one individual notes, “If an employee isn’t allowed into an office building because of a high temperature, however, that data would inevitably be collected to explain the person’s absence from work.”
The idea of thermal cameras has surfaced as a means of discretely and unobtrusively recording temperatures. In the US, thermal cameras are currently in use in restaurants, on cruise ships and in warehouses in an attempt to curb the coronavirus. Yet, experts state that this methodology does “not produce accurate results,” for a variety of reasons. A judge in France recently banned this practice in the City of Lisses, after a non-profit organization registered a complaint.
Experts recommend that European organizations reduce the potential for GDPR related penalties by keeping the collection of temperature data to an absolute minimum, if collecting at all.
For more on using temperature checks and thermal cameras to curb the coronavirus, visit The Wall Street Journal.