Corona vaccination passport gains traction

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 20th Jan, 2021

There is still no obligation in Germany to be vaccinated against the corona virus. But it is becoming increasingly clear that vaccinated people may be able to return to normal life more quickly. Therefore a vaccination certificate is a conceivable possibility.

While in Germany vaccination is not yet compulsory, in other countries it is a very different matter altogether. In China, there is already an app that shows whether you have corona symptoms or not. Only those who are symptomless are allowed to check into a hotel, for example. Also, only those who are symptomless are allowed to use the underground. This obviously raises concerns about the restrictions of basic rights and liberty.

In Chile, certificates are issued to those who have recovered from a Covid 19 disease. Spain is going one step further: "Health Minister Salvador Illa wants to create a register of vaccination refusers and share it with his European neighbours," according to a report in the Tagesschau. An alliance of technology companies and health organisations is currently working on a digital proof of a Corona vaccination.

It is not unusual for us to store important documents on our smartphones. With airline tickets and online banking, this is already commonplace - however it is voluntary with no repercussions if we don;t use this mechanism. The digital vaccination certificate is supposed to work in a similarly simple way, albeit with consequences for those who don;t use it: After a successful vaccination, a digital certificate is stored on the user's smartphone. People who do not have a smartphone will receive a forgery-proof QR code on paper.

Microsoft, Salesforce and Oracle founded an initiative for this recently. Of course, these companies are not the only ones working on such a development. Commonpass is another consortium in which the German national airline Lufthansa is involved.

The non-profit organisation ID2020 is based in New York and advocates a worldwide digital identity card. Director Dakota Gruener says: "We are only at the very beginning. It's still the Wild West at the moment. It's pretty clear that vaccination certificates are coming. Now we need to clarify that we are doing this right. Now is not the time to quickly smash business models."

There is concern whether or not this is defensible in terms of data protection. Onfido is the name of a start-up company from the UK that already offers approaches in this area. Chief developer Kevin Trilli explains: "You don't need your first and last name, your address or all the test data. It is enough if you can prove that you have been vaccinated. You open your phone with a face scan and can then pass on the certificate. Only the status is transmitted. If you can do it that way, your privacy is protected."

Increasingly, proof of vaccination will become more important in daily life. Anyone who wants to travel by plane now will already have to present a negative Corona test to most airlines. It is likely that proof of vaccination will also have to be provided in the coming weeks.

Lois Privor Dumm from John Hopkins University in Baltimore takes a critical view of this: for one thing, she says, there are people who reject "Big Brother surveillance". In addition, it is conceivable that vaccination will soon be considered a criterion for returning to one's job. Some people may be afraid of losing their job if they wait to be vaccinated, for example, because they want to learn about the differences between the various vaccines. Many are also deterred by the possible side effects of the Corona vaccine.

Yet these concerns are being ignored and trampled by various governments and big tech companies who see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enforce compliance, irrespective of the risks to personal freedom, all achieved in the name of security.

Image by The Eye Newspapers

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