The Kingdom’s “Stop Covid” QR Code – a location and contact-tracing app designed to prevent the coronavirus spreading – has won the Global South Covid-19 Digital Innovation Challenge award from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICT).
The challenge, launched in June this year in collaboration with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), sought to identify scalable, innovative, digital solutions that will enable countries, societies, communities, institutions and individuals to deal with the effects of Covid-19.
The “Stop Covid” QR Code was developed by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and has been adopted by businesses and the general public all over the country.
“This is the first time the Kingdom of Cambodia has won the world-class award in the [ICT] sector.
“This is our great success proving that Cambodia – which is a developing country – is fully capable of developing digital programmes that are internationally recognised,” said the ministry.
“This QR Code system has now evolved into the so-called Stop QR Code Vaccine to scan vaccination cards for multiple purposes, for now and in the future,” the ministry said.
As the winner of this challenge, Cambodia is given $20,000 for use in strengthening the system. The Kingdom will also be invited to share knowledge and experiences with other countries as a role model, the ministry said.
Digital security consultant Nget Mose applauded the ministry for developing the app and winning the international award.
Nevertheless, he urged the ministry to also have a specific law on data use and protection.
“We should apply it in a way that prevents other countries or other digital programme developers from collecting the data of our people,” he said.
Mose was also concerned that the data collected by authorities might not be securely stored and that there is no specific law to manage it, which could create a risk for users in the future.
In an effort to ally public concern, the ministry in May stressed that the QR Code only enabled authorities to carry out contact tracing to assist individuals exposed to Covid-19 to self-quarantine, get tested and treated timely to prevent spread of the virus.
“The ‘Stop Covid’ QR Code is necessary and proportionate to the pursuance of legitimate aims, which include the protection of public health as well as public safety, economic wellbeing of the country, and the rights and freedom of others,” the ministry said.
Information collected through this system, it added, is not for any other purpose than combatting Covid-19.
“The data can be accessed only by the [National] Committee to Combat Covid-19 and is automatically deleted between 28 and 90 days, and the data is securely stored and encrypted,” it said.