With the proliferation of the first COVID-19 vaccines, governments and agencies around the world are struggling to figure out how to prove that someone has been vaccinated. Paper statements, PDF files, bracelets and mobile apps were provided, and former CDC director Tom Frieden and international human rights lawyer Aaron Shwed called for “immunity passports” as a way to get the world back on track.
In theory, their idea is great. In practice, this is terrible. Or, as the Daily Beast puts it, “vaccine passes are the last major technical nightmare.”
As a solution to an urgent problem, privacy and data security sacrifice immunity or vaccine passports. Pay for the opportunity to prove that you have received the vaccination and for continuous access to the rest of your data or for mandatory registration in a health application. There are all sorts of unintended consequences. While Frieden and Schwed acknowledge this – and acknowledge that these risks will prevent anyone from being vaccinated – they do not seem to have any answer to the problem other than to suggest that “reliable and consistent standards” will somehow act as cavalry. which saves the situation. .
This is outrageous because it is a way to get proof of vaccination, as well as privacy and security of personal information. There is an entire community dedicated to creating and developing this technology called Identity Decentralized. It’s a new consensus-based mechanism that allows you to use verifiable references to prove who you are and what’s not about you, without prying eyes – looking at you, Big Tech – to manage, store or sell your data.
Digital credentials that can be verified in a decentralized network can be quickly scaled up to meet the challenge of proving that people have received the COVID-19 vaccine and any subsequent doses required, giving them the privacy and security they deserve.
This technology can be new to the public health community and decision makers. But organizations like the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development see it as the future, and innovative global companies are building it now.
How bad is passport immunity? Very bad
Passport solutions depend on the company storing your data. This is a central data form that is stuck on us due to the lack of a reliable method of verifying identity online. Another person tells us the identity – the email account, the shopping account – and asks us to prove who we are, where we live, etc.
Over time, these third parties – Amazon, Facebook, Google and more – have tracked our behavior to develop better products and services. Sometimes they sell this data so that others can do the same. We agreed, but not significantly. Our data was taken frequently; It is becoming more and more clear that although it is legal, it has been used in exploitative and aggressive ways.
At the same time, everyone, except the most complex documents, can be forged. In many regions of the world, paper cards, PDF files and printed emails are accepted as valid proof of COVID-19 testing. Similar methods for confirming vaccination are considered, which only require the recipient’s name, type of vaccination, date, place and provider. How does this happen? The group was recently arrested for selling fake COVID-19 test results at Charles de Gaulle Airport. If the physical proof of vaccination does not have the same counterfeiting characteristics as real passports, it is forged.
There is a third problem: “Permission of immunity” is the wrong name. This does not guarantee immunity, as our understanding of COVID immunity is incomplete. Researchers have found that having a disease and curing it in the past is not a guarantee of future immunity. For this reason, the World Health Organization actively advises against the use of “COVID passports”. Likewise, not all COVID-19 tests are created or treated in the same way, and as a result, some organizations only accept tests from predefined vendors and locations. Governments have different powers to test travelers. The passport must be a living document adapted to science and politics.