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17 January, 2022
 
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Mandatory CovScan Cyprus begins amid confusion

Disagreement between officials on android app raises privacy concerns, fears over confusion at the door

Newsroom

CovScan Cyprus, a digital app used for scanning health documents during the pandemic, became mandatory on Monday in the Republic of Cyprus, but there was still confusion as officials still disagreed on whether door greeters should match digital names to actual photo IDs.

The software application used by door greeters to inspect documents of Safe Pass holders and travelers throughout Europe, was made mandatory on Monday morning by emergency law during the coronavirus pandemic.

Employees at business establishments, where more than ten individuals can gather according to social distance protocols, must scan unique QR barcodes presented by most customers at the door before they are allowed to enter.

Knews has learned that full name and date of birth had been necessary for passengers traveling throughout the EU, but there was a concerted effort to merge the local Safe Pass and EUDCC into one app

During inspection, CovScan shows on a door greeter’s scanner or android device the customer’s first name, last name, and full date of birth for a few seconds, along with an indication regarding the individual’s health profile such as vaccination against coronavirus, previous recovery from the bug, or a valid negative rapid test.

But there was still disagreement early Monday morning as to whether door greeters ought to ask for personal identification documents in order to match the details in the app with an actual person.

According to police spokesperson Christos Andreou, who spoke on state radio Monday morning, Safe Pass door greeters at business establishments, such as supermarkets and department stores, need to check identification documents of customers who present a mandatory QR code at the entrance.

“This is necessary to make sure the authentic document actually matches the person at the door,” Andreou said.

But the government says secondary checks are not necessary unless there is suspicion of fraud.

App checks health doc validity only

Innovation Deputy Minister Kyriacos Kokkinos told state radio moments later that android app was meant to help business establishments verify only the validity of a Safe Pass document. He also said CovScan Cyprus would soon be available on iPhones in a matter of weeks.

But Kokkinos argued that additional checks beyond scanning and verifying validity ought not to take place, saying it was up to the individual to follow the law and that the app was designed that way.

“The app won’t show all the personal information of the individual out of respect to privacy,” Kokkinos argued, saying he was of the opinion that no further checks were necessary.

Personal data concerns still remain

A statement on Friday from the office of Irene Loizidou-Nikolaidou, the country’s Commissioner for personal data protection, pointed to exceptions in the mandatory use of QR codes and also stated that the emergency law did not violate privacy based on how the app was designed.

The commissioner’s office also responded to concerned citizens who raised questions as to why the full name and full date of birth were shown in the app instead of last three digits of an ID card, as it was currently the case with health ministry text messages.

“The inspection of documents must eliminate the possibility that someone with the same name may use someone else’s document,” the statement said.

But Knews has learned that the full name and date of birth at least initially had been necessary for checking passengers traveling throughout the European Union, with Kokkinos’ office previously stating there was a concerted effort to merge the local Safe Pass and EUDCC into one app.

Neither the minister nor the commissioner were available for comment late last week or Monday morning, but both have expressed the position that additional checks should take place only when fraud is suspected.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  CovScan  |  health  |  pandemic  |  android app  |  Safe Pass  |  EUDCC  |  personal data  |  privacy

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