Data Protection News Update 06 November 2023

United Kingdom

Arnolds Field: Health probe into dump fires delayed by privacy laws

  • Investigations into the health impact of fires from an illegal dump have been delayed for more than a year because of NHS privacy concerns over patient data. 
  • Local residents in Havering Council, East London fear that former landfill site Arnolds Field (which holds about 40,000 cubic meters of unregulated waste) may be the cause of sore throats and respiratory illnesses.  
  • Havering Council are in the process of drafting a health risk assessment but have had “difficulty” accessing local health data due to data protection laws that protect sensitive patient information. 
  • Because patient-level data is held by local GP practices, a “detailed data impact assessment” has to be carried to avoid accidentally identifying individual patients. 
  • NHS North East London remains fully committed to supporting the council in carrying out the health assessment, and is considering if other data it holds might be helpful to the council. 

Government creating ‘worrying vacuum’ around surveillance camera safeguards

  • The UK Centre for Research into Information Surveillance and Privacy warns that insufficient replacement of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner (BSCC) could leave the country without proper biometric privacy safeguards. 
  • The role of the BSCC (which operates independently of government) is being scrapped under the new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill. 
  • The legislation will remove a requirement for the government to publish a surveillance camera code of practice, which sets out guidance for police and local authorities using cameras and facial recognition technology.  
  • The government has not made provisions to replace the role of the BSCC in multiple areas, including reviewing police handling of DNA samples, DNA profiling and fingerprints, and setting out technical and governance matters for public surveillance systems including AI-driven products. 
  • This is troubling as Conservative ministers advocate for the use of more surveillance and biometric technology by police, raising privacy and safety concerns for citizens. 

United States

Mozilla Explains: Is Your Dating App Racist?

  • Over 300M people use dating apps to find love, but how are these apps ranking and sorting their users? Who is benefiting most from the algorithm? Author and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Apryl Williams, explains why racial bias plays an integral role in how people are matched. 


Grindr sued the Norwegian data protection authority after it was fined for sharing user locations and advertiser information with marketing partners  

  • Grindr summoned the Government Attorney to court, believing that the Norwegian Data Protection Authority and the complaints body, the Personal Data Protection Board, have misinterpreted the EU GDPR.
  • The complaints body fined Grindr NOK 65 million after a report from the Consumer Council showed that the app shared users’ GPS location, advertiser ID and the app’s name with marketing partners.
  • Grindr’s data protection representative Kelly Peterson Miranda stated that clearer guidance or a clear decision that using Grindr itself makes all the data collected and processed special categories of personal data is necessary.

TikTok CEO to meet top EU chiefs next week amid disinformation worries  

  • TikTok CEO Chou Zi Chew will meet top EU industry chiefs in Brussels next week amid heightened regulatory scrutiny of TikTok’s role in the proliferation of disinformation following the brutal and ongoing events in Gaza. 
  • The commissioners will be updated on TikTok’s data security regime as well as the company’s compliance with new EU online content rules known as the Digital Services Act. 
  • This act aims to require big technology companies to do more in countering illegal and harmful online content on their platforms.  


EU and Japan conclude landmark deal on cross-border data flows  

  • The EU and Japan have concluded a landmark deal to make doing business in the online world easier, less costly, and more efficient. 
  • The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) lays the foundation for a common approach on digital trade whilst remaining consistent with the EU digital agenda and privacy rules. 
  • This agreement will allow companies across sectors such as financial services, transport, machinery, and e-commerce to handle data efficiently without cumbersome administrative or storage requirements.  


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