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A French health care worker may have been responsible for leaking President Emmanuel Macron’s COVID-19 immunity data after dozens of professionals were able to access the protected information, officials told local media Thursday.
A QR code containing Macron’s immunity data started circulating on social media Monday, allowing people to see basic information such as the president’s date of birth, the type of vaccines he received, and when they were administered.
The code was linked to Macron’s personal immunity pass — a paper or digital certificate that proves a person’s COVID-19 status and must be shown by law in order to access public venues like bars and restaurants. The Elysée presidential palace confirmed that the code did belong to Macron.
According to Le Parisien daily, which cited national health insurance officials, as many as 50 health care workers had been able to access the president’s data on a national COVID-19 vaccine registry before it was leaked. Those identified have been sent a letter of reprimand and the order of doctors has threatened sanctions against the leaker — but their identity remains unknown.
Leakers „may be subject to disciplinary sanctions by the departmental authorities,“ said the professional body, adding that the leak was a „serious breach of medical confidentiality.“
While the code contains only limited information and Macron made no secret of getting vaccinated, it does underscore risks linked to the immunity scheme. France was the first EU country to roll out a far-reaching immunity-pass system — one that has prompted rolling weekend protests, but is also credited with falling infection rates.
Now the scheme is tied to a high-profile privacy breach.
Under Europe’s privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), health data is considered the most sensitive category, subject to special protections.
Macron’s QR code is no longer accessible. Macron has been given a new QR code after the leak and his previous QR code is now invalid, a presidential spokesperson said, according to France 24.
The health pass was made mandatory in France to access cafés, restaurants and other cultural venues in July.
France has since been rocked by weeks of protests, but the health pass is widely considered a success and instrumental in France’s vaccine rollout, which has seen almost 64 percent of the population receive two jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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