Italian DPA: Green light from the Italian SA subject to adequate safeguards

10 June 2021

Use of the IO App to be limited temporarily

Following several fruitful exchanges with the Ministry of Health, the Italian SA (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) issued a favourable opinion on the draft decree implementing the National DGC Platform for the release of digital green certificates, or ‘green passes’, and laid down adequate safeguards for the use of such certificates. The green pass was introduced by the ‘Italy Reopens’ decree to enable travelling between Italian regions and participating in public or sports events; in yellow areas of the country, the pass is now also required to join civil or religious functions.

The Italian SA had already highlighted the criticalities of the current text of the ‘Italy Reopens’ decree; on this occasion, it reminded the Government of the need for the law due to be enacted following the above decree to spell out the cases in which an individual would be required to produce a green pass in order to access certain premises or places.

Indeed, the lack of clear-cut guidance on the conditions for producing a green pass has led a few regions and provinces in Italy to issue orders mandating the use of a green pass for purposes other than those set out in the ‘Italy Reopens’ decree. The Italian SA has already stepped in with regard to such local orders. 

Additionally, the Italian SA underlined that the EU green pass draft regulation also envisages that the green pass may be used in Member States for purposes other than intra-EU movements – on condition this is explicitly provided for and regulated by national law. 

The draft decree, to be issued by the Prime Minister’s office, was received on the whole favourably by the Italian SA as it took on board most of the recommendations and guidance provided by the Garante during the exchanges with the Ministry of Health. However, there remain a few areas for which amendments are needed in the Italian SA’s view.

In particular, the Italian SA is requesting that the purposes for which producing a green pass may be required should be laid down clearly by way of primary legislation. Such legislation will have to provide that a green pass may only be issued and released through the national DGC platform and verified only through the ‘VerificaC19’ app. The latter app is the only tool that can ensure the current validity of a green pass in line with data protection principles; furthermore, checks based on this app will only disclose the data subject’s name without displaying any other information contained in the green pass – i.e., whether the individual recovered from, was vaccinated against, or tested negative for Covid-19. 

A further measure to be implemented following the requests made by the Italian SA to the Ministry of Health envisages that only dedicated, trained staff will have to be deployed for checking green passes. 

As for obtaining a green pass, the draft decree envisions the use of various digital tools – including the website of the national DGC platform, the personal e-health file, the ‘Immuni’ app, and the ‘IO’ app. All of them will enable data subjects to access, display and download the respective certificates. Data subjects will also be able to apply to their family doctors or to pharmacies in order to download their green passes.

Regarding, in particular, the apps for obtaining one’s green pass, the Italian SA authorised the Immuni app but did not give its green light to the IO app, for the time being, on account of the criticalities that were found.

More specifically, a separate urgent decision adopted by the Italian SA on the same day addressed more general shortcomings of the IO app. In this connection, the PagoPA company [which manages payment transactions involving public bodies] was ordered to provisionally limit certain data processing activities as performed via the said app since they entail interactions with services by Google and Mixpanel and result accordingly into transfers to third countries (USA, India, Australia) of data that are highly sensitive including information on cashback transactions and payment tools. Those transfers have been performed without adequately informing users and enabling them to give their consent.

It should be recalled that the Italian SA had already drawn the Government’s attention to these shortcomings by way of several decisions issued in 2020, where guidance had also been provided to bring the use of the app into line with data protection law. 

You can find the original press release on the Italian DPA's website here.

For further information, please contact the Italian SA:

The press release published here does not constitute official EDPB communication, nor an EDPB endorsement. This press release was originally published by the national supervisory authority and was published here at the request of the SA for information purposes. As the press release is represented here as it appeared on the SA's website or other channels of communication, the news item is only available in English or in the Member State's official language with a short introduction in English. Any questions regarding this press release should be directed to the supervisory authority concerned.