What agreements will the CMA choose not to take enforcement action in respect of?
CMA guidance suggests that it will not take enforcement action in respect of agreements which:
- Are appropriate and necessary to avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply
- Are clearly in the public interest
- Contribute to the benefit or wellbeing of consumers
- Deal with critical issues that arise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic
- Last no longer than is necessary to deal with these critical issues
With the loss of face-to-face meetings in the current situation, video conferencing has taken centre stage. But how do you do that in a compliant way? Here are some of the main high-level data protection issues to consider when selecting and implementing a new third party provider’s video conferencing system.
- Make sure you do your due diligence on the security measures offered by the provider. Clearly you can’t visit them, so look at the information offered publicly by the provider and read good quality, reliable, third party sources and ask the provider questions directly. Also ask any other organisations you know that use the provider. Document all this.
- If personal information is being sent outside of the UK/European Economic Area, make sure that transfer complies with GDPR. If it’s a US provider, is it registered in the EU-US Privacy Shield list or does it offer a model clause contract (you’re likely to need the 2010 version)? Or is the service provided from a country whose data protection laws offer equivalent protection to those in Europe? Look at the support service as well as the hosting. Document this.
- Make sure you put a compliant processor agreement in place. The provider should offer one as part of the contract terms. Check it meets GDPR requirements.
- You’re likely to need to update your privacy notice, particularly if you’re going to record calls. Provide participants with a short message and link to the privacy notice in the meeting invite and on any registration page.
- Create or update other GDPR-mandated documentation – for example, depending on your use, you may need a legitimate interests assessment and to update your record of processing.
- Finally, configure and use the system in a secure and compliant way. Look at the settings/options carefully and think through the security and compliance implications of each. That could include deciding who in the meeting can share their screen; whether or not you use passwords for participants; whether or not to record, and if you’re going to record, where to store the recording. Document your decisions and the reasons for them.
The ICO has said it understands that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance work during the pandemic. However the last thing you need at the moment is to create a bigger problem than the one you are trying to solve. So do the best you can, ask for help from one of our specialists if you need it, and keep the whole thing under review.
On 16 April 2020, Ian Hulme, the ICO’s Director of Assurance, posted a blog for business owners, employers and managers about how to safely roll out the latest video conferencing technology.
On 21 April 2020, the NCSC published security guidance for organisations on choosing, configuring and deploying video conferencing services.
There have always been ways for public bodies to assist without being required to notify these for approval. These continue to be available during the financial crisis, and are likely to be increasingly useful for measures which need to be introduced quickly. The measures include:
Those where it is possible to conclude that there is no effect on trade between Member States – for example, measures which are likely to have only a limited local effect. The European Commission has concluded, for example, that measures to assist locally-focused cultural activity can be assumed to have no effect on inter-State trade.
Those where it is possible to conclude that the State is acting in a way consistent with a commercial operator (the so-called Market Economy Operator Principle) – particular care will need to be taken in the context of current economic conditions to ensure that it can reasonably be asserted that a commercial operator would act in the same way as the public body.
Measures under the General Block Exemption Regulation – this legislation allows various types of aid, or aid schemes, to be employed.
Examples include aid for SMEs, aid for research and development, aid for local infrastructure and aid to ports and airports.
De Minimis Measures – Member States are permitted to grant small amounts of aid to undertakings over three fiscal years (the current year and the previous two years). This allows undertakings to receive up to €200,000 (or €500,000 where they are providing public services).
The government has also confirmed it will match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser on 23 April – pledging a minimum of £20 million.
If such testing is regarded as a “reasonably practicable step” which has been identified as an appropriate control following a risk assessment then it is something you can do.
Although you can’t physically force someone to have something intrusive done, this is very likely to be a reasonable management instruction and therefore if someone refuses to have this done as a condition of entry into the work place then disciplinary action may follow.
Where this is something that is required of employees, employers should be letting their staff know that this is one of a number of measures that are being introduced into the workplace for their own safety. If the employer can explain, in advance of the return, why temperature checks need to be taken, what the consequences of the results will be- i.e. will they be sent home if over a certain temperature, whether this data will be stored (and if the sole purpose is to determine whether or not they are fit to attend work on a particular day then why are they being stored), and the fact that temperature checks are a requirement of entry to company premises for everyone, then there shouldn’t be significant resistance to this measure.
Large scale temperature checks have in some businesses become part of the “new normal” working environment.
On 7 May the Government published guidance on how contracting parties can act responsibly in order to assist the effort to deal with Covid-19. The guidance seeks to persuade contracting parties to act reasonably and recognise the impact of Covid-19 on contractual counterparties. This will continue to be relevant as business begins to emerge from lockdown.