Despite being an exceptional measure for an exceptional situation, the Covid certificate is not without controversy. One day after the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC) suspended precautionary way to use this document As a requirement to be able to access the interior of the hotel industry, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (Aepd) gave this Friday a wake-up call about its legality.
Through a request, this body requested information from the health authorities of the Canary Islands and Galicia about the use they are giving to this document, created by the European Union to guarantee a safe mobility of travelers. The objective of the Agency is “Check the legality of the processing of personal data” that the Health Councils of these communities are doing with the use of the vaccination certificate.
In a brief note, the agency assures that the European data protection authorities have expressed their “concern about the use of certificates within States for purposes such as access to shops, restaurants or gyms, as well as its use in other contexts such as work ”. In France it came into force last week, while in Italy it will do so on August 6. Portugal, Denmark and Greece have also used this ‘safe conduct’.
The agency recalls that “the use for these purposes of certifying certificates of the health situation in relation to Covid-19 implies the need to have an appropriate legal basis that conforms to the principles of efficacy, necessity and proportionality.” That regulation – he adds – must also attend “to the existence of other protection measures that may be less invasive, avoiding discriminatory effects and establishing adequate guarantees ”.
The president of the Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, advocated this Friday in the framework of the Conference of Presidents held in Salamanca “to seek a common position on the usefulness of vaccination certificates.” Specifically, it called for a regulation to ensure “safe, useful and effective use.” “It is a contradiction that the Covid passport or negative PCR test is required to access this meeting and this health security is not offered to citizens to access hospitality premises, “he said. The same requested his counterpart from Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco.
Although for now only Galicia and the Canary Islands have proposed the use of this ‘safe conduct’, more and more communities are considering it. This is the case of Catalonia, Cantabria, the Balearic Islands and Andalusia. The Madrid Health Minister, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, determined this week its implementation to a homogeneity of criteria at the national level and that access to vaccination is guaranteed to the entire population.
To settle the criticism of the communities, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, told the regional presidents this Friday that he will launch “A shared regulation on the Covid certificate in September”. This was revealed by the Canarian president, Ángel Víctor Torres, after the meeting. However, the Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, pointed out hours later at a press conference that “a Covid certificate cannot be imposed today when there are people who have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
“We would be stigmatizing,” said the Minister of Territorial Policy, who insisted that now “the priority is vaccination” and once that objective is met, “other measures will be studied”, such as the Covid certificate. The Data Protection Agency itself recalls in its note that “vaccination is not mandatory, that there are groups that cannot receive it for medical or other reasons and that, ultimately, the vaccination process is based on prioritization criteria that assume that part of the population has not yet been able to access it ».
To overcome this obstacle and given the accelerated progress of the Delta variant, some experts in bioethics and health law consulted by ABC consider that “for the moment we are doomed” to the use of this certificate. “There is a tension between two opposing rights but collective health must prevail even though we cannot guarantee data protection. If there is a risk of contracting the disease, we will all end up agreeing to give in to our privacy “, explains Fernando Abellán, specialist in health law.
Although this measure began to be used only at airports, this professor maintains that its use will be “generalized” although “only for some time.” To avoid possible conflicts, Abellán acknowledges that the best thing would have been to have a “pandemic law.” However, in the absence of legislation, it recommends the development of some protocol on the use of the certificate similar to those used in other face-to-face activities such as congresses or fairs.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism