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Corona warning app, Luca and proof of vaccination: This is how Germany is tinkering with digital helpers

2021-04-11T20:25:46.414Z

When will the blockchain-based vaccination certificate come? When does the Corona warning app enable check-in at events? And why does the Luca app allow 600,000 guests at a fictional party? An overview.



Enlarge image

Corona warning app on an iphone

Photo: Rüdiger Wölk / imago images

Tracking chains of infection, informing restaurant guests retrospectively about infected table neighbors and showing proof of vaccination on their mobile phones: several electronic helpers should do their part to get the corona pandemic under control.

We give an overview of when the QR code update for the Corona warning app should come, what the competition between Luca and Co. looks like and what about the digital vaccination certificate from Ubirch and IBM on a blockchain basis.

Corona warning app: check-in with QR code only from mid-April

The announced "very soon after Easter" will no longer work.

However, the update for the Corona warning app should be published in the next one to two weeks.

Then the official government app can also be used to check-in at an event.

"Event registration is planned for mid-April," a SAP spokeswoman told SPIEGEL.

The software company is developing the app together with Telekom on behalf of the government.

The aim of the check-in function: the app should be able to scan the QR codes of an event, but also automatically recognize when users are at an event.

The event should then be stored in the app's contact diary.

If a visitor to this event subsequently tests positive for Covid-19, a warning should be issued for the entire event, says a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health.

more on the subject

Planned update: Corona warning app should soon be able to show results of rapid tests

Personal data are still not recorded.

This means that the app will only exchange pseudonymized data with other telephones in the future; visitors to an event do not have to register with their name and telephone number.

No more big increases in the number of downloads

That is the main difference to the contact tracking app Luca.

Their users have to register with their name and telephone number.

If it turns out that you were at an event after which someone else tested positive, the health department should be able to call the Luca users.

"In principle, offers for digitized contact data acquisition can be a useful addition to the Corona warning app," said the spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

In principle, every federal state can already use the Luca app or a comparable offer for digitized contact data collection today.

The download numbers of the official Corona warning app are now stalling.

The application has already been downloaded 26.7 million times.

But since the beginning of the year, just two million users have installed the app on their smartphones.

Luca: Criticism of the app, but many countries are using it

Enlarge image

The Corona tracking app Luca

Photo: imago images / MiS

In order to avoid the mess of paper in restaurants, numerous app providers are currently vying for the support of the landlords.

The Luca app, which is advertised by rapper Smudo among others, is currently the best known.

149 health authorities are now connected to the Luca app, a spokeswoman told SPIEGEL on Thursday.

"By the end of April, 312 of the 400 federal German health authorities can be connected by taking out state licenses." According to this, 13 federal states have already bought licenses.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is also using the app across the board and has paid around 440,000 euros for the licensing.

With 3.3 million downloads and 64,000 locations, Luca is currently at the forefront of check-in apps.

Other providers such as the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga) cannot keep up.

A few weeks ago, Dehoga published the “Intrada” app, whose predecessor “BarCov” had been used by around 100,000 people in 100 companies, according to the association.

Regarding the hype surrounding Luca, a Dehoga spokeswoman said that they were happy "that digital contact recording is gaining in importance as an aid in the Corona crisis".

On the other hand, one thinks it is »strange« that the Luca app »is touted as the measure of all things, especially in public law«, especially since there are other, very good providers.

Almost 50 of these Luca competitors have allied themselves under the "We for Digitization" initiative.

They want to prevent countries from relying on just one app.

But the prospects are bad.

It is true that the decision lies with the individual federal states, but the minister-presidents have agreed that "we will agree on a uniform system," said the Ministry of Health.

After that, it only looks to a certain extent: North Rhine-Westphalia is relying on the many providers who have come together in the "We for Digitization" initiative.

But at least ten other federal states want to use Luca, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania the app is already explicitly included in the School Corona Ordinance: "The mandatory documentation for contact tracking should be done in electronic form nationally using the LUCA app."

The criticism of Luca has increased significantly in the past few weeks.

Most recently, Berlin's data protection officer, Maja Smoltczyk, said she saw “problems of data protection law” and spoke of “considerable risks that have not yet been eliminated”.

The decision of the Berlin Senate to buy the app without prior verification called it “naturally suboptimal”.

Researchers at the TU Darmstadt have found that numerous users can register with just one phone number.

In the browser application, with a relatively simple modification, it is even possible to skip the SMS-based verification.

Jan Böhmermann makes fun of Luca

ZDF presenter Jan Böhmermann has shot himself in at Luca and makes fun of the fact that users can check in at the Osnabrück Zoo, for example, even though they are not there.

In another tweet, Böhmermann writes that he checked into a furniture store in Lower Saxony from Potsdam and "rummaged through a few blouses and jeans."

He writes ironically: "The app works perfectly and is absolutely worth the money!"

Other users took up the criticism.

A journalist, for example, created an imaginary event with the app and asked Twitter users to log in.

A few hours later, more than 600,000 visitors had registered for the event, which did not even take place.

The Luca developers commented on the fake check-ins in a statement.

"Systems can be bypassed, users can abuse them - and check in at the zoo in Osnabrück at night," the message says.

That is possible with the Luca app.

"It doesn't make sense." The safety of the users is not affected.

As a countermeasure, it would be conceivable to check the GPS data.

According to the company, this would "contradict the" idea of ​​data economy ".

In response to public pressure, the developers have now (as of Friday noon) published further parts of the Luca source code, most recently the iOS code on Wednesday evening.

By the end of April, the QR codes generated by the app should also be adapted so that the Corona warning app can also read them.

Waiting for the vaccination - and the digital proof

Enlarge image

A proof of vaccination on the smartphone

Photo: imago images / MiS

Those who are vaccinated against the coronavirus could soon have more freedom.

Health Minister Jens Spahn announced a few days ago that, according to a study by the Robert Koch Institute, completely vaccinated people could be treated like people with a negative test result.

Thus, the proof could release the vaccinated from a quarantine obligation and allow entry into restaurants, shops and hairdressers.

Citizens can prove that they have been vaccinated with their yellow paper passport, which is still valid.

In addition, there will soon be a voluntary digital solution: the government has commissioned the IT group IBM, together with the software service providers Bechtle, Govdigital and Ubirch, to develop a digital vaccination certificate.

It works like this: Anyone who is vaccinated in a vaccination center or doctor's office receives a QR code as confirmation.

This code can be scanned by the vaccinated with a free app, it is then linked to the respective device.

According to the Ministry of Health, it should also be possible to bundle the data of family members such as children and partners on one phone.

The vaccination data should only be stored locally on the smartphones; there should not be a central vaccination register.

No comment on the blockchain criticism

A test app is also to be published for vaccination controls, for example at airports or train stations.

This allows inspectors to scan the vaccination data from smartphones, such as a barcode in the supermarket or a digital flight ticket.

It then shows, among other things, whether the vaccination is valid as well as the name and possibly the date of birth of the vaccinated person.

The person must also identify themselves.

The digital proof of vaccination should take into account the certificate requirements of the EU Commission so that it can also be scanned in other European countries.

Evidence of the validity of the vaccinations is to be stored in five blockchains in a forgery-proof manner.

Critics like Pavel Richter, digital strategist at the Federal Association of German Foundations, consider the technology to be a cost driver.

"Absolutely unbelievable - the digital vaccination certificate is actually made more expensive with blockchain nonsense," writes the author on Twitter.

Neither Ubirch nor IBM have commented on this.

Now it is also clear that the schedule was planned too tightly.

The digital vaccination certificate should be used nationwide as early as the beginning of May.

Nothing will come of it.

At the request of SPIEGEL, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health announced on Friday: "We are currently assuming that this offer can be made available at the end of the second quarter of 2021."

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-04-11

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