China: Vax Passport Data Now Connects to Gov’t Servers

An update kicked off centralization of data.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Businesses in Hong Kong have two weeks to update their QR Code Verification Scanners so that they can connect to the internet, according to Deputy Government Chief Information Officer Tony Wong.
  • Restaurants and other places where vaccination records must be checked will now be required by the Hong Kong government to have an internet connection.
  • After the update, a person’s vaccination status can still be checked by a QR code scanner even if they have a hard copy of the code or an older version of the city’s tracking app, LeaveHomeSafe.
  • The system works by determining whether someone has a red or amber code, which decides whether they can move freely within the country.
  • Officials have dismissed privacy concerns about checking people’s health status by stating that their personal information will be encrypted, masked, and hashed into unidentifiable information when uploaded to the government’s cloud.
DETAILS FROM THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL:
  • According to Wong, as a result of the new update, data collected from customers who visit a location will be sent to a centralized government server.
  • “During this [updating] process, premises can first use visual inspection to see if people present an amber health code for scanning, or even whether there are people holding a red health code. But of course, the main responsibility falls on the visitors themselves,” Wong said. 
BACKGROUND:
  • According to The New York Times, “China’s ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from everyday citizens is more expansive than previously known.”
  • “Phone-tracking devices are now everywhere. The police are creating some of the largest DNA databases in the world. And the authorities are building upon facial recognition technology to collect voice prints from the general public,” the NYT report goes on to say.