Estonian parlt committee leader, SDE group concerned about possible abuse of health data

  • 2020-04-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Toomas Kivimagi, deputy chairman of the legal affairs committee of the Riigikogu, said at the parliament on Tuesday that under the planned amendments to the Rescue Act, the Riigikogu would grant volunteers manning the 1247 emergency number unjustified access to delicate personal information, a similar concern was also voiced by members of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) group, which proposed to halt the handling of a bill seeking to amend both the Rescue Act and the Weapons Act.

The bill would allow 1247 volunteers to provide callers with information regarding the hospital the person they are requesting information about has been taken to if the caller can provide their name and the name and personal identification code of the person they are inquiring about and a crisis-related reason why they are requesting this information.

"99 percent of coronavirus patients who are hospitalized are able to provide the name of their contact person themselves. That means that there is no relation to the emergency situation," Kivimagi said.

The legal committee's deputy chairman said that not even the head of the emergency situation or chief officers should have access to other people's personal data, according to the Chancellor of Justice, thus it should definitely not be made available to crisis hotline volunteers.

"If a caller can learn from the crisis information line if health care has been provided [to the person they are inquiring about] or which hospital the person has been taken to, it can be directly concluded from it whether or not this person has the coronavirus. This is delicate personal information, and the constitutional breach is obvious," Kivimagi said.

"No other means allow such liberal access to delicate personal data as this bill intends to grant. All you need to do is make a call, provide two names and personal identification codes and you'll get information about anyone. It is completely unjustified and incomprehensible," Kivimagi said.

The same arguments were also pointed out by member of the legal affairs committee Heljo Pikhof and the group of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE), which proposed to halt the handling of the bill seeking to amend the Rescue Act and the Weapons Act at the parliament on Tuesday.

"How can an Alarm Center volunteer determine that the caller is not the employer [of the person they are inquiring about] or worse yet -- someone who has been issued a restraining order by the court," Pikhof said.

The bill was sent to third reading with support by coalition MPs.