Employers and businesses can’t ride roughshod over privacy, equalities laws and data rights under the guise of public health. That’s why we’ve commissioned a ground-breaking, expert legal opinion on the lawfulness of mandatory temperature screening, for the use of potential operators and privacy advocates alike.
It confirms that thermal scanning engages data rights and that its use requires a solid evidence base and safeguards. Without these, mandatory thermal screening is likely to be unlawful.
We believe this important work provides legal authority on your data rights, and could stop the surveillance industry exploiting public health concerns to sell ineffective and intrusive surveillance tech in the future.
The coronavirus pandemic was a gateway to even more unjustified surveillance of our movements and our health. Schools, workplaces and hospitality businesses invested in thermal screening technology to prove that they’re ‘safe'. But infrared scanners do not accurately measure core body temperature, unlike thermometers, and the MHRA has warned against their use. There is no evidence that processing this sensitive health data makes anyone safer.
Thermal surveillance represents yet another form of inaccurate, intrusive and unnecessary monitoring. Worse, it often combines other forms of surveillance like behavioural analysis and facial recognition, posing a real risk to rights.
There are a range of reasons a thermal scanner might detect a high temperature. Most devices aren’t precise enough to detect the subtle shifts in temperature that would indicate a fever.
Weather, certain medications, alcohol consumption, pregnancy, menstruation, high blood pressure and other conditions can all impact a person’s temperature reading. Thermal screening means people will have to choose between disclosing sensitive personal information or being barred from venues.
No one should be denied access to their workplace, school or travel due to unreliable technology.
Thermal screening has serious accuracy problems.
Claims that thermal cameras can detect fever are misleading – a camera can’t diagnose coronavirus, or any other disease, and suggesting that they can keep students, workers, and travellers safe only promotes a false sense of security.
One UK study found that temperature screening was just 0.78% effective at detecting coronavirus, and the medical regulator has made it clear: thermal screening doesn’t work and shouldn’t be used. But this isn’t just about coronavirus. Once this technology becomes normalised, it will be back.
We wrote to over 80 businesses, workplaces, schools, care homes, airports and hospitality venues, asking them to stop using thermal surveillance and to explain how they’re protecting sensitive data. Do you know anyone still conducting temperature checks? Let us know.
You can help us win the fight against intrusive surveillance of all kinds by becoming a supporter.
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Do you know anywhere using thermal surveillance? Let us know and we will send them a copy of the legal opinion on the lawfulness of mandatory temperature screening.
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