8th May 2020, 3:38 pm


The note of caution sounded today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its response to the Government’s proposed Covid 19 digital contact tracing has been welcomed by specialist information and communications technology lawyer, Susan Hall.

Ms Hall, who is head of technology and a partner at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, said: “In summary the report says:

  • State-controlled apps that enable the mass surveillance of personal data, and that could then enable the (proportionate or otherwise) violation of fundamental rights are novel.
  • The introduction of such an app is an innovative apparatus of state interaction with its citizens.
  • The implications of such an app are so widespread, significant, and, as yet, subject to limited public examination, that they should be subject to the in-depth scrutiny of Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
  • The Committee is concerned that this has not happened to date.”


Susan Hall continues: “The Committee’s concern seems wholly justified.


“Yes, these are extraordinary times, but that does not mean sacrificing all normal checks and balances.


“Proposals still need to be considered against the following tests:

  • Do they work (efficacy)? Do they cause the minimum of disruption to normal expectations of privacy to achieve their intended purpose (proportionality)?
  • Do we know the quantities, types, purposes for which used and length of time during which data captured is held (transparency)?
  • Are all of these points enshrined formally in legislation, rather than a matter of discretion, subject to independent oversight and kept under Parliamentary review?


“The pressure to be seen to ‘do something’ must not lead to putting in place an unprecedented level of state surveillance of individuals, their movements and their associations without a clear legislative basis, clear risk analysis (including human rights analysis) and a clear timeframe by which such extraordinary measures can be brought to an end and the data gathered using them destroyed.”

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons to consider matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom. It is chaired by Harriet Harman.

The full report is here:

Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with seven offices across the country in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton. For more information visit


07 May 2020

Issued by Empica PR on behalf of Clarke Willmott LLP. For further information contact Nicki Sampson or Kayleigh Penny on 01275 394400. 

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