Matthew Ryder

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Matthew Ryder QC is a barrister and founder member of Matrix Chambers in London, specialising in human rights, media, data and information, crime and regulatory law.[1] He is a board member of the Scott Trust Ltd.[2]

COVID-19 & Tech responses

On 4 May 2020, Matthew Ryder QC tweeted:

"Our legal advice on smartphone contact tracing, data sharing and immunity passports, published today, by lawyers from Matrix Chambers (me and Eddie Craven), Blackstone Chambers (@gsarathy1) + data rights agency AWO (@RaviNa1k) covered in today’s @GdnLaw".[3]

The Legal Opinion concerned the UK government's announced intention to deploy a range of digital and data-driven solutions to monitor public health and provide the Government with information on the spread of the COVID-19/Pandemic. Those proposals, insofar as they have been made public, are still in embryonic form. Ryder had been asked by the Open Society Foundation to provide a preliminary opinion on the legal framework concerning the right to privacy and protection of personal data under which those proposals will need to be considered.[4]

Guardian summary

The Guardian reported:

The government’s plan to exit lockdown through a tracking app will need detailed justification to satisfy human rights and data protection laws, a report has warned.

The NHSX app centralised system for contact tracing, which it is thought the government may well choose, would result in “significantly greater interference with users’ privacy and require greater justification”, the report – given as a legal opinion – concludes.

By contrast, a decentralised system, such as the DP3T system (decentralised privacy-preserving proximity tracing), is likely to be in accordance with the law, proportionate and necessary, the lawyers state.[5]

Carole Cadwalladr tweets

On 5 May 2020, Carole Cadwalladr tweeted:

Big political announcement yesterday about the contract-tracing app. But there’s a pattern here. Why is Britain - again - ignoring global consensus to go it alone? Why is @MattHancock's app using *self-reported symptoms*? Why centralised not decentralised?[6]

Is it going to work? It’s really hard to see how. And all this is *before* you consider @RaviNa1k & @rydermc’s team suggesting it may be illegal...[7]

I’ve put all that first. So that even if you don’t care about the creepy surveillance aspects or the secret data deals govt has done with Vote Leave firm (Faculty) & the one that’s allied to Trump (Palantir), you should maybe care about the fact it seems highly unlikely it’ll keep your granny alive.[8]


Matthew Ryder was Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration between 2016 and 2018 overseeing the mayor’s community engagement, diversity and equality work, and use of data. He has worked on a number of influential reviews including the Lammy Review into racial bias in the criminal justice system, and has held numerous board positions including chair of the UK’s Black Cultural Archive and governor of the University of the Arts in London.[9]