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Fighting Covid-19 and protecting privacy: can they coexist with the blockchain?
Fighting Covid-19 and protecting privacy: can they coexist with the blockchain?
Blockchain

Fighting Covid-19 and protecting privacy: can they coexist with the blockchain?

By Amelia Tomasicchio - 19 Apr 2020

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In view of the transition to the so-called phase 2 of the containment strategy, systems are being studied all over the world to control the spread of Covid-19 contagions, also using the blockchain.

Some projects (MIT’s Safepath or Mipasa, which includes IBM and Microsoft among its sponsors) focus their efforts on tracking people, using smartphones, to monitor their movements and their possible presence in places with a high concentration of patients. In addition, it is intended to allow the devices themselves to keep track of certain body parameters (temperature first and foremost) to determine a subject’s state of health.

These solutions have several weaknesses, for example:

  • They put at risk or cancel completely the protection of personal privacy;
  • They do not guarantee continuous and complete tracking (the person may turn the phone off, not activate the GPS, leave it at home while moving);
  • They do not guarantee the identity between the owner and the person being monitored (subject A may be carrying a subject B’s phone);
  • They do not guarantee that the person is not incubating, which means that the person is asymptomatic but contagious.

Alternatively, the approach can be adjusted from a different point of view: categorize people on the basis of the presence of antibodies, certifying the cases that give rise to immunity and issuing a “digital license” that confirms their status.

This is the path chosen, among others, by Deepit AG of Zug, which is adapting its DeeCert certification protocol on behalf of an innovative startup in Rome, creating a system based on these components:

  • A smartphone application that acquires documents proving a subject’s immunity (vaccination certificate or result of repeated negative Covid-19 tests), incorporating them into a non-fungible token.
  • An ethereum-like sidechain that manages the tokens and makes them searchable even in automatic form.
  • A smartphone application that reads the data of the person (KYC – Digital Identity), associating them to the token and showing a QR Code to the device in charge of verification.

The device that reads the QR Code, will connect to the sidechain verifying that the token corresponds to a status of immunity demonstrable with the documents entered beforehand, and will authorize access to the owner of the token.

In practice, the use of this “Immunity License” is intended to allow safe access to common venues (bars, restaurants, museums, gyms, cinemas) or large events (concerts, sporting events, rallies), as well as access to workplaces or school/university institutions.

 

Amelia Tomasicchio
Amelia Tomasicchio

As expert in digital marketing, Amelia began working in the fintech sector in 2014 after writing her thesis on Bitcoin technology. Previously author for Cointelegraph and CMO at Eido. She is now the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Cryptonomist.

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