The Information Commissioner’s office notes the rapid developments in the use of technology to support the fight against COVID-19. Amongst these developments is the use, or proposals to use, thermal imaging cameras to check the body temperature of individuals.
As with any emerging technology, it is important to recognise the data protection and privacy risks that may arise as a result from the use of technology. Data protection innovation by assuring the public that their data is protected.
Carrying out temperature checks is a privacy intrusion, which can only be justified in very limited circumstances. It is important to note that in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, temperature checks could significantly impact the freedom of individuals, which are already limited due to government restrictions, and that temperature checks may not necessarily be reliable as there are a variety of reasons that may cause fever; further, COVID-19 infected individuals do not always have fever. The necessity of temperature checks and the proportionality of their intrusion should therefore be very carefully considered as there may be less intrusive and more appropriate alternatives.