Corona Virus and Data Privacy: Caution for International Companies
The spread of corona virus is making headlines for economic, health, and political reasons. Business-focused news also makes note of the impact of corona on international corporate travel planning. One other aspect of corona is worth noting for companies with international operations, however: data privacy. Many companies abroad are asking employees to declare whether they have been tested for corona, and/or what the test results show.
In some jurisdictions, local privacy laws may limit or govern whether an employer is permitted to assess the health of the employee population by seeking declarations that employees have tested free of the virus. If you have employees based in Asia or the EU, you are advised to consult with privacy counsel and local counsel on the rules for seeking health information from employees: their health data may be protected under local privacy laws, and your right to collect it may be limited.
If the virus spreads more widely and becomes a larger problem outside the areas already heavily affected, US operations could face similar data privacy sensitivity in seeking health information from site visitors (clients, delivery personnel, contractors). We will update this blog post if US-specific privacy measures relating to corona become advisable.