The 99 becomes superfluous

Berlin (dpa) - If at some point the cafes, bars and restaurants in Germany can reopen, the operators are not allowed to take care of their guests on their own: They also have to perform an annoying task for the health authorities.

As in the previous summer, the companies will be obliged this time to keep a list of their visitors and to record their contact details.

The contact tracing system has only worked moderately well over the past few months. Often "Donald Duck" or "Mickey Mouse" sat at the guest table, or at least they had put themselves on the guest list with these names. Many innkeepers accepted this false data because they were not legally responsible for the information provided by the guests and were also not allowed to check the personal details. Only the public order office and the police have this right.

Several check-in apps now promise a much more efficient method of warning restaurant visitors of the risk of corona infection if another guest tests positive. The best-known solution is the Luca app, which was co-developed by Smudo, musician of the Fantastischen Vier. The operating company Culture4Live promises to enable quick and seamless contact tracking.

To do this, smartphone owners have to download the Luca app from the Apple or Google app store and enter their personal contact details there. Here, too, users could register as "Donald Duck". In contrast to the paper guest list, however, the mobile phone number is checked with an SMS, so that the health authorities would at least know under which telephone number "Donald Duck" can be reached after a risk incident.

The app makers not only want to avoid fake entries, they also want to protect sensitive guest data better than on paper lists. "I have a problem when I go to a restaurant and have to write down my private address there for everyone to see," said Smudo of the German press agency.

Smudo sees no contrast between the official Corona warning app and the Luca app. The RKI app is suitable for capturing fleeting encounters, an individual radar system, so to speak. The Luca app, on the other hand, can be used at private meetings and in restaurants or at sporting events, concerts and in local public transport in order to check-in at a specific location.

Security expert Rüdiger Trost from F-Secure sees it as an advantage that the Luca app was not commissioned by the state: "If a state authority had developed the app that asks for name, address and mobile number, the reservations would have been great and no one would Trust her. The app would be talked to death and trust would decline. " Smudo's concept convinced the security expert: "Multiple encryption and explicit release of the data by the user show that security and data protection were already considered in the design phase."

The Luca app is significantly better than the contact lists on paper, because the operator cannot access the data on the app, only the health department. However, Trost also sees a disadvantage: "The fact that not all health authorities are affiliated, and that large parts of Germany are initially still excluded, is to be criticized." So far, only a few health authorities have tried the cooperation, for example on Sylt, Amrum and Föhr or in Schwerin and Rostock. That is why Smudo uses every chance to advertise on TV and in other ways for the connection of further health authorities.

The Luca app is not only met with enthusiasm. Headwind is coming from other start-ups that do not have such a prominent figurehead like Smudo. "We see the great danger that the competition will be undermined by the Luca app," declared the providers, Railslove, CoronaAssist: Presence, and Hygieneranger, among others.

Railslove managing director Jan Kus points out that his Recover solution has been in active use by restaurateurs, retailers, conferences, hospitals and care facilities since May 2020. In his hometown, Fortuna Cologne has also been using Recover to record guests on the seats in compliance with data protection regulations since September.

With Recover, no app needs to be installed on the smartphone. Similar to Luca, a QR code is recorded with the camera and a website from Recover is called up. The contact details are entered there and assigned to the event. You can check out again with another tap of your finger.

Kus suggests that the 16 start-ups - including the makers of the Luca app - sit down at a round table as quickly as possible in order to consolidate the different approaches to risk assessment so that everyone pulls together. "We have a diverse start-up landscape in Germany that can make a big difference together," wrote the entrepreneur to his Prime Minister Achim Laschet (CDU), who had previously come out as a fan of the Luca app.

Achim Berg, President of the Bitkom digital association, criticizes the fact that there is still great uncertainty in many places when apps such as Luca, Recover or eGuest are used, because some consumer or data protection advocates recommend using paper lists. "Apps for contact tracking have the great advantage that personal data such as telephone number or address cannot be viewed by everyone, legibility is ensured and, above all, that the health authorities are informed directly and digitally if there are infections in a certain location." In combination with the Corona warning app, such contact tracking apps could be a great support for an opening strategy out of lockdown.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210302-99-656936 / 2