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LCQ11: "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile application
     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Tik Chi-yuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Alfred Sit, in the Legislative Council today (June 1):
     It has been reported that recently, problems arose when some members of the public used the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app. For example, the Vaccine Pass QR codes, electronic vaccination records and recovery record QR codes (electronic records) of some members of the public were deleted due to a technical error on the part of the contractor of the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app, resulting in such members of the public being regarded as not holding valid Vaccine Passes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the up-to-date number of incidents involving the deletion of electronic records stored in the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app by mistake and, among them, the number of those caused by technical error on the part of the contractor; whether the Government has held the contractor responsible;
(2) whether the incidents mentioned in (1) have led to leakage of personal data of members of the public; if so, of the types of personal data and number of people involved; and
(3) whether it has conducted reviews in respect of the incidents mentioned in (1), and has taken measures to prevent the errors from happening again; if so, of the details and timetable of the review; if not, the reasons for that?
     The Government launched the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app in November 2020, aiming to provide members of the public with a convenient digital tool to record the time of their visits to different premises, and send exposure notifications to enhance their vigilance and remind them to undergo testing so as to reduce the risk of further spreading the virus in the community. To tie in with the implementation of the Vaccine Pass, we added the electronic vaccination record function in June 2021. Currently, the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app has recorded over 8 million downloads and gained the support and participation of over 130 000 public and private venues. Having regard to the views of the industry and members of the public, we continue to update the functionalities and user experience of the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app so as to cope with the latest anti-epidemic needs of Hong Kong.
     In response to the questions raised by Dr the Hon Tik Chi-yuen, my reply is as follows:
(1) Due to a technical error in the compilation process when the service contractor released the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app version 3.2.4 at around 4pm on May 10, 2022, the Vaccine Pass QR codes of some Android and Huawei users were found deleted after updating the app to version 3.2.4. To rectify the problem, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) took immediate follow-up action and released the updated version 3.2.5 in app stores of Android and Huawei (i.e. Google Play and Huawei AppGallery) at 8pm on the same day.
     Since the information of Vaccine Pass QR codes are stored in the "LeaveHomeSafe" users' mobile phones, and users' habits and time of updating the app are different, the OGCIO does not have the actual number of affected users in the incident.
     In response to this incident, the OGCIO has issued a warning letter to the service contractor which is requested to seriously handle the incident and strengthen the supervision. The service contractor has pledged that it will immediately increase manpower for testing the app, strengthen the review and approval process, and the internal control for ensuring the quality of app updates and avoiding the recurrence of similar incidents.
(2) Regarding this incident where the Vaccine Pass QR codes stored in users' mobile phones have been mistakenly deleted due to the error of the app, it does not involve any leakage of personal data of members of the public.
(3) The OGCIO has been maintaining close communication with the service contractor on the development and maintenance of the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app and providing direction to it. In view of this incident, the OGCIO has requested the service contractor to increase manpower and strengthen the internal testing. We have further required the service contractor to prepare a beta version for testing on all platforms (including Apple App Store, Google Play and Huawei AppGallery) prior to the launch of any updated version. The service contractor and the internal staff of the OGCIO shall jointly conduct hands-on testing so as to ensure that the updated version of the app functions properly before releasing it for download and use by members of the public.
     Furthermore, to assist those members of the public in need, the OGCIO set up the "LeaveHomeSafe" hotline (2626 3066) on May 23 to directly handle public enquiries in respect of the installation or usage of "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app, such as the functionalities and updates of the app, storage and display of the Vaccine Pass, etc. Members of the public could also continue to visit the "LeaveHomeSafe" thematic webpage for usage details of the app and making enquiries. They can also seek assistance from the staff at the mobile support stations set up by the OGCIO at 25 MTR stations on the use of the "LeaveHomeSafe" mobile app.
Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 11:30
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