I&JPN Secretariat Issues Framing Brief on User Data Access in the COVID-19 Context

Published on
April 15, 2020

Numerous private digital services and applications routinely collect information regarding their users that can be useful to public authorities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many governments therefore are currently devising ways to access such data or developing dedicated applications.

The pandemic brings to the fore some important and concrete issues in direct relation to the work of the stakeholders in the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network. Building on interactions with Members of the Data & Jurisdiction Program Contact Group, the I&JPN Secretariat has developed a Framing Brief on User Data Access in the COVID-19 Context.


Several years of experience facilitating policy discussions among public, private and civil society actors in the I&JPN’s three Programs, demonstrate the importance of a common frame of reference to properly address an issue, design policy solutions and evaluate their impact.

The I&JPN Secretariat Framing Brief aims to help actors analyse the complex policy issues surrounding initiatives being launched due to the COVID-19 pandemic that are accessing user data. The document includes criteria all actors can use to analyze initiatives taken in this exceptional context, and design the most appropriate solutions. 

It is structured around four major themes: 

1) Initiation and beneficiaries 
2) Purposes of the data sharing
3) Types of data and modalities of collection
4) Protections

In addition to these issues, slow and uncoordinated responses to the crisis highlight the need for new mechanisms for communication, coordination and cooperation:

- Across administrative levels: between countries, as this is a global situation, but also between levels in national environments (e.g. States and the national level in Federal countries), or at regional levels (e.g. the European Union and other groupings)

- Among actors from a multiplicity of stakeholder groups, including: various public authorities, businesses, civil society groups, international organizations

- Across sectors, because of the close interplay between health security, the general economy and human rights 

The I&JPN Secretariat has prepared this resource to trigger meaningful discussions between public and private actors on user data access in the COVID-19 context. By equipping actors with a common framing of the issues at hand, this Secretariat Framing Brief intends to help those working under the pressure of urgency, coordinate initiatives and avoid any long lasting unintended consequences.

The Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network is the multistakeholder organization addressing the tension between the cross-border Internet and national jurisdictions. It engages over 300 entities from governments, the world’s largest internet companies, technical operators, civil society groups, academia and international organizations from more than 50 countries.

For more information about the Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network and the work of the Data & Jurisdiction Program see here