Saskatchewan privacy commissioner raises concerns over coronavirus measures

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WATCH: Ronald Kruzeniski’s concern is whether personal information is being recorded at checkpoints – May 8, 2020

The Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner is raising some potential issues over the provincial government’s measures around COVID-19.

At the end of April, the premier announced restrictions on all non-critical travel to the north, which included checkpoints.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: More restrictions ordered on travel into northern Saskatchewan

The commissioner said to his knowledge, this is the first time this kind of travel restriction has been put in place in Saskatchewan.

Ronald Kruzeniski’s concern is whether personal information is being asked for and recorded.

“So I think training people at checkpoints saying, ‘You can’t ask this. You shouldn’t ask that. You shouldn’t search in the trunk.’ That’s a whole different type of enforcement matter if you’re doing those things,” he told Global News.

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The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is working with provincial protection and response team members to staff the checkpoints.

In an email to Global News, the agency said their staff has been briefed and no personal information will be collected.

It went on to say to make sure people can cross a checkpoint, all travellers should have proof of where they live, a note from a doctor regarding a medical appointment or identification.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Health Ministry assessing tech-based coronavirus tracing

Kruzeniski and the other provincial, territorial and federal privacy commissioners also put out a joint statement on contact-tracing apps.

The apps would allow governments to use data from cell phones to help track whether an infected person might have come into contact with someone else.

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READ MORE: COVID-19 tracing apps come with privacy risks to Canadians, watchdogs warn

The joint statement outlines a few principles governments should consider, like consent, before moving forward with apps.

“Downloading it and then clicking yes on the consent is basically doing it voluntarily and consenting,” Kruzeniski said.

The other principles include legal authority, necessity, proportionality, purpose limitation, de-identification, time limitation, transparency, accountability and safeguards.

READ MORE: Alberta’s contact-tracing app only works on iOS when phone is unlocked, app running in foreground

Saskatchewan is considering using this technology to track COVID-19 cases.

In a statement to Global News, it said, “The Ministry of Health is establishing processes to review these offers in a coordinated and well-informed manner. The ministry will also ensure that the privacy commissioner will be engaged as required should any application be considered for implementation.”

The ministry added that it’s aware of approaches suggested by Apple and Google, but hasn’t started talks with either company.

Alberta’s government released its app during the first weekend of May.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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