The Information Commissioner’s Office has overhauled its regulatory approach by switching its focus onto companies which are exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak to obtain and use personal data unlawfully.
In a blogpost revealing the new strategy, commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that her office has narrowed its focus on the areas it can have the greatest impact to protect the public and support economic growth and innovation.
The regulator said its first priority is to protect the public interest by focusing on the information rights issues that are likely to cause the most harm or distress to citizens and businesses.
Next it wants to ensure that data can be shared responsibly and with confidence for the public good, including responding to the risk arising from a failure to share.
Finally, the ICO will be monitoring intrusive and disruptive technology to make sure it can protect privacy, while enabling innovation and supporting the economy.
Denham added: "We are responding to the immediate privacy and information rights risks, issues and opportunities presented by Covid-19 in order to support frontline workers and protect the public.
"We are identifying and taking action against those seeking to use or obtain personal data unlawfully or inappropriately during Covid-19 so that the public and businesses feel confident that the ICO is protecting them at this time when they may be especially vulnerable to financial or other loss."
The regulator has previously stated that all audit work has been halted due to travel and contact restrictions, while all formal regulatory action over outstanding information request backlogs has also been suspended.
In addition, the ICO says it may not enforce against organisations who fail to pay or renew their data protection fee, if they can provide evidence this is due to economic reasons linked to the crisis.