Quebec’s vaccine passport app, ‘VaxiCode,’ has proven popular among residents as the app has become one of the most downloaded in Canada since its launch.
Éric Caire, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Access to Information and the Protection of Personal Information, spoke on the radio show Tout un matin about VaxiCode. In the interview, Caire said that since launching on the App Store on Wednesday, VaxiCode had become the most downloaded free app in Canada, ahead of Instagram and TikTok.
Quebec launched VaxiCode and its partner app VaxiCode Verif for verifying the validity of vaccine passports, on August 25th. The apps arrived ahead of September 1st, when certain businesses and public places will begin chacking people’s vaccination status. The apps will also come to Android in the coming days.
Previously, Quebec’s health minister said that the app would allow vaccinated individuals to access public events, training facilities, bars and restaurants in the province. VaxiCode works by showing a QR code that can be scanned by the Verif app to check the users’ vaccination status. La Presse (via The Star) was able to verify that neither software seems to communicate with remote servers when the QR code is verified.
That should ease privacy concerns for individuals since it means that the apps don’t send any information through government servers. However, VaxiCode isn’t perfect. Four computer security specialists confirmed to La Presse that it was theoretically possible for malicious merchants to use software not approved by the government to read confidential information contained in the QR codes.
“It must be understood that the merchant who would do this is exposed to extremely severe penalties,” warned Caire in the radio interview.
The Star also outlined other possible security vulnerabilities in the VaxiCode app that have since been fixed. The Quebec government worked with security specialists to carefully scrutinize the two apps and make sure they’re safe and secure.
Update 08/27/2021 at 2:57pm: Despite the careful scrutiny, it appears other vulnerabilities in the VaxiCode app have been exposed. You can read more about them here.
Overall, it seems that residents are eager to have the app. VaxiCode could be a crucial tool in limiting spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant by ensuring only vaccinated individuals can access public events and spaces with a high contact rate and significant potential for disease spread.
Other provinces, including — hopefully — Ontario, will watch Quebec’s app closely. If successful, it could become a model for other provinces to implement similar proof-of-vaccination tools that will help curb the spread of COVID and encourage people to get vaccinated.
Those who live in Quebec can download the VaxiCode app from the App Store for free.