As announced by the German Federal Ministry of Health, the EU vaccination certificate is to be integrated into the Corona-Warn-App of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The so-called “digital green certificate” could then bring great benefits to fully vaccinated individuals.
Germany is pushing the envelope
Not only is vaccination speed slowly picking up in this country, but German policymakers have also shifted into a higher gear when it comes to the European digital vaccination certificate. In particular, the Federal Ministry of Health, under the leadership of Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), has such plans for the so-called “digital green certificate.” As early as the middle of the second quarter of 2021, there should be integration in the Corona-Warn-App. Of course, the high-speed integration will not be cheap. The consortium responsible, which consists of well-known IT companies such as IBM, is to implement the project at a cost of just under three million euros.
The Federal Ministry of Health itself let this be known. However, the costs will not be incurred all at once. Rather, it is also said to be ongoing costs, probably for server structures and maintenance work. Fully vaccinated citizens will be the first to be pleased about this expenditure of taxpayers’ money. After all, thanks to the digital proof of vaccination, the free movement of people is to be strengthened again, among other things. The EU created the digital certificate in order to be able to use its own proof of vaccination in addition to the vaccination certificate of the World Health Organization (WHO).
There should be no central database
Anyone who can remember the introduction of the Corona-Warn-App last year certainly still has the miserably long discussions around the issue of data protection in mind. To clear up this dilemma in advance, experts are placing great emphasis on data security when integrating the digital vaccination certificate. A responsible ministry official clarified in a statement to the Bundestag that the goal is “that certificate keys alone are exchanged via a secure server.” This would prevent a database containing sensitive personal information from being created in the first place. Tools such as QR codes are to be used in order to ultimately be able to carry out identifications.
An IBM representative has already said a few words about the integration technology. Thus, integration is possible thanks to open source in different applications. The vaccination certificate service, which can be used specifically by doctors and vaccination centers, is probably also particularly practical. In this way, the data of freshly vaccinated persons can be entered quickly and easily. Once this is done, each person receives their very own individual QR code.
Vaccination proof app in planning
In addition to the digital vaccination record, a customized app is also part of the Federal Ministry of Health’s plan . This will serve as a kind of “repository” for the code that people receive as part of the vaccination process. On top of that, IBM and the rest of the consortium responsible are planning a kind of testing application. This is intended to ensure smooth workmanship of the codes and thus open the door to verifiable activities. Here, the QR code and thus the correctness and also validity of an existing vaccination protection should be able to be registered. The process should also be as simple as possible. Depending on whether an authorization is present or not, the app is to issue a green or red result.
Now without blockchain technology after all
Recently, there has been hot discussion around the topic of digital proof of vaccination. In the process, the topic of blockchain came up again and again. The technology, which we know primarily from the field of cryptocurrency, should have provided maximum data security. However, it now turns out that this was nothing more than purely preliminary considerations. A five-fold blockchain, which the Federal Ministry of Health is said to have planned, is by no means in the works. Instead, the planned implementation is taking a different, but by no means more uncertain path.
The contents of the digital green certificate don’t seem to be set in stone quite yet. What is certain, however, is that in addition to successful vaccinations, results of corona tests should also be able to be integrated. If the EU Commission has its way, an illness with Covid-19 that has already been passed should also appear in the digital vaccination certificate. We do not yet know what the Federal Ministry of Health thinks about this. Thanks to this equation of vaccination, negative test result and (possibly) survived Corona disease, one prophylactically avoids criticism of a preference for vaccinated people.
What freedoms are possible?
Already during the first debate about the “digital green certificate”, the framework of the freedoms granted was of course of concern. Here, the member states quickly agreed that they would not agree anyway. Accordingly, it is now up to each country to decide which freedoms are made possible by the vaccination certificate. However, one point coincides across countries and concerns the issue of mandatory quarantine. Anyone who can show a suitable QR code will escape this just as they will escape the obligation to test. However, the focus was naturally also on data protection issues. The relevant provisions have been strengthened once again in the text of the regulation. This was confirmed by the European Council. In particular, cross-border data transfer has been kept to an absolute minimum.