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Generalization of the health pass: “This choice has an ethical dimension”, warns the CNIL

The CNIL gave its opinion on the extension of the health pass. Possession of this pass becomes mandatory to access a greater number of places, including those of everyday life. The authority takes into account the exceptional circumstances in which this device is deployed but all the same multiplies the warnings.

Once again, the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil) speaks out on the health pass, but without being certain of being heard. After a first alert in May, where it pointed to a risk of a “phenomenon of habituation”, followed by an opinion in June on the application dedicated to the control of the pass, the Cnil issued a new warning.

This position is taken within the framework of the discussion in the Senate of the bill relating to the management of the crisis linked to Covid-19. The independent administrative authority notes that the context in which the health pass is considered has changed: it is no longer just a question of targeting certain heavily frequented places, and very occasionally, but also of including places of everyday life. .

Changes to the health pass were announced in mid-July during a speech by Emmanuel Macron. // Source: Screenshot Emmanuel Macron

Indeed, the health pass has been required since July 21 in all places of culture and leisure welcoming more than 50 people, which includes, for example, cinemas, sports halls, museums, theaters, libraries. Previously, the gauge for the health pass was set at 1,000 individuals, which restricted the device to a few large raouts, such as concerts or festivals.

However, this expansion of the compulsory use of the health pass is not trivial. ” This choice has an ethical dimension », Warns the CNIL, because it will in fact give rise to a sort of quasi-permanent identity check of the population while it goes about its activities. This ” raises new and complex questions of articulation between the protection of public health and the exercise of fundamental freedoms.

This choice has an ethical dimension

It turns out that the health pass will be further extended in August. Cafés and restaurants, shopping centers, hospitals, retirement homes and medico-social establishments and certain means of transport will be added to the list when they involve long journeys (planes, trains and coaches). These measures should apply to everyone from the age of 12.

These rapid changes in the health pass are to be assessed in view of the situation, admits the Cnil. ” The rebound of the epidemic may justify exceptional measures, to avoid a new containment », Writes the institution. Confinement constitutes, in fact, a much more severe restriction of freedoms than a health pass, since it is almost no longer possible to move or go to public places.

That being said, the authority continues, “ the implementation of a health control at the entrance to certain places or means of transport questions the border between what comes under individual responsibility and what comes under social control. In principle, there should be no health check at the entrance to places of collective living. “. In fact, the control of the pass is likely to be related to it.

The health pass can take the form of a paper document or be stored in the TousAntiCovid application. // Source: Numerama / Melvyn Dadure

Fear of addiction and trivialization

As the previous time, the president of the CNIL again warned the parliamentarians of the risk of habituation and trivialization vis-à-vis all the mechanisms that are invented, over time, to deal with the pandemic of coronavirus. It recalls, and the text of the law takes this into account, that it is essential that the health pass be limited in time.

Indeed, these exceptional health circumstances actually facilitate the deployment of ” privacy-invasive devices “And acclimatize, over time, the population to such controls which” would be the norm and not the exception “. Clearly, you have to be careful of everything ” slip “And the occurrence of” ratchet effect ”, Which prevents backtracking once the measures are installed in the landscape.

Taking advantage of her hearing, the president of the CNIL suggested tightening the scope and conditions of use of the health pass. For example: is it so relevant to include the youngest in this mechanism, when they usually do not develop a severe form of the disease? If the goal is to avoid congestion in hospitals due to lack of vaccination, minors are probably not relevant in the equation.

Tighten the use of the health pass

The use of the sanitary pass could also be more finely tuned, including at the level of gauges and public places, taking into account other barrier measures and local characteristics. For example, a terrace is much more ventilated than the room of a restaurant. Wearing a mask, physical distancing, reception capacity are also other factors to be taken into account.

The CNIL notes with satisfaction that ” substantial guarantees are already provided »In the text, on the exercise of certain fundamental freedoms (access to places of worship, political and union freedom), but also on the prohibition on keeping pass data at the end of the verification process, contraindication account and the fact that there is a paper alternative to the digital health pass.

Marie-Laure Denis cnil
Marie-Laure Denis, the president of the Cnil. // Source: DR-CSA

However, more is needed: authority ” would like the law to further specify the methods of controlling the health pass, and in particular the control of the identity of the bearer of the pass. The generalization of extensive identity checks should be avoided in all places where the health pass is established. “. Additional provisions must also be incorporated for the pass in a professional context.

Thus, continues the Cnil, “ the conditions for processing employees ‘medical data by their employers should be clarified, in order to avoid the creation of a file containing all the employees’ vaccination certificates: the employer should only keep track of the vaccination status, and in ensuring the security of this sensitive data “.

In conclusion, the president of the CNIL suggests that it might be time, after a year and a half of the pandemic, to question the usefulness of the other systems already in place, if the health pass becomes a keystone in living with it. the virus. Perhaps some tools put in place since early 2020 can be abandoned, including some digital instruments.

The law should provide for the principle of a rigorous and scientific evaluation of these files and devices. », She observes, recalling that there is already a host of measures: barrier gestures, obligation to wear a mask, health teleworking, a health survey system of unprecedented power, TousAntiCovid application, reminders, vaccination campaign and health pass.

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