Republican leaders express privacy concerns ahead of state’s digital health card launch

Connecticut

Conn. (WTNH) — The state is launching a digital COVID-19 vaccination card that will allow people to show proof of vaccination from their phones. Some state lawmakers are concerned about privacy and whether your personal data could be sold.

News 8 spoke to two UConn Hartford students who both carry their vaccination cards on them. They are open to putting a digital version of their cards on their phone.

RELATED: Lamont says state’s digital COVID vaccine card system will be voluntary

“I think I would just in case I need it for anything if it comes up,” said Tali Caramanello from Middlefield.

Ava Meliso of Durham was asked if she was concerned at all about privacy or someone taking her data and selling it.

“Not really just because I have my name on it, but I don’t have any other medical information on it, just what shot I got. So I’m not too concerned,” Meliso said.

The state Department of Public Health is set to officially roll out a digital health card program next week that uses a QR code to verify you have been vaccinated.

It is not mandatory but some lawmakers have big concerns over personal information being sold to third parties.

“This is the government’s facilitation of data collection,” said State Rep. Vin Candelora, the House Republican Minority Leader.

He questions why the contract details were not made public prior to this press conference.

“I could look at New Hampshire’s contract and see those protections in place,” Candelora said. “I can’t do the same for the state of Connecticut.”

The state contracted with Envision four years ago to handle all vaccine data. The CT WiZ system is an add-on providing the digital card.

Governor Ned Lamont was asked about data mining concerns on Thursday, and said “HIPPA, privacy, no way, not gonna happen.”

A day later, his spokesperson said the state is not in the business of selling data and Republicans don’t understand how data works.

“Where the fear-mongering and the irresponsibility that’s going on here is relating to an optional digital health record that goes into your digital wallet on your phone, that is related to a QR code. That is not the same thing in any way, shape, or form,” said Max Reiss.

Businesses and other public venues will decide if they want to participate. Republican leaders say that could set up a discriminatory system of those who are vaccinated versus those who are not.

“Can a grocery store deny access if it’s the only grocery store within 30 miles of residence?” Candelora asked.

The QR code is supposed to work in New York and half a dozen other states.

Connecticut Restaurant Association President and CEO Scott Dolch said his members are by and large not going to sign onto this digital vaccine card program. He said they’re just not interested.

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