Scotland’s Vaccine Passport App Vulnerable to Abuse: Opposition Parties

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
October 19, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

Scotland’s COVID-19 vaccine passport scheme has come under increasing criticism as opposition parties claim it is open to abuse by anyone who knows how to take a screenshot.

The Scottish government, controlled by the Scottish National Party (SNP), began enforcing the controversial scheme on Monday.

Scots have to show proof they have had both vaccine doses, with a paper copy of the certificate or a QR code on a new mobile phone app, when they enter nightclubs and unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor events with over 4,000, and any event with more than 10,000 people.

The measures technically came into effect from Oct. 1, but an 18-day grace period was announced following backlash from affected industries and significant problems with the app.

But allegations of vulnerabilities with the app have persisted despite the grace period.

According to The Telegraph, the app allows users to take screenshots that could be sent to others instantly by email, text, or on messaging services such as WhatsApp.

Businesses have been told that they are allowed to “visually” check QR codes when screening customers, which means an unvaccinated person can easily get around the requirement as long as they can obtain an image of the QR code from someone else.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats repeated their call for the vaccine passport scheme to be scrapped, as the system could be “outfoxed by anyone who knows how to take a screenshot.”

“The launch was a shambles and the IT system struggled to cope,” the paper quoted party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton as saying. “What’s worse is that these illiberal ID cards will not even keep people safe. It will breed false confidence and allow the virus to spread under the radar.”

The Scottish government rejected the claim. The Telegraph quoted a spokeswoman as saying: “We recognise that it is possible to take a screenshot of the COVID Status app, but the shimmer security features built into the app mean that it should be possible to distinguish between the app and a screenshot.”

The Scottish Labour Party also slammed the SNP administration over the “shambles” over the app and called it “a predictable disaster.”

The vaccine passport system adopted in Wales has also encountered problems.

The system, which came into effect on Oct. 11, requires people to show a COVID Pass or demonstrate their vaccination status to enter nightclubs and attend large events.

But Welsh leaders including First Minister Mark Drakeford conceded that the system is “vulnerable to abuse.”

PA contributed to this report.