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Vaccine passports could prove to be a privacy minefield for regulators

When the EU announced its plans for a “digital green certificate” this month, the tourism industry breathed a sigh of relief that maybe summer could be salvaged. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the concept of a “vaccine passport” has been floated regularly. Once inoculated against Covid-19, a person could carry proof of vaccination that would allow them to travel or access services that are otherwise shut under lockdown.

The EU’s certificate, which avoids using the term “passport,” would create a common digital system for Europe, likely in the form of a smartphone app, to prove vaccination, a negative test or that they have recovered from the virus. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said a common EU-wide approach to such a certificate would “gradually restore free movement” in the region.

“It is also a chance to influence global standards and lead by example based on our European values like data protection,” he said earlier this month. Different industries around the world have been tinkering with these passes for months.

IBM is working with New York State on a digital health pass that uses blockchain technology to verify a person’s test or vaccine credentials and Walmart, which is carrying out shots in its stores, recently backed calls for vaccine certificates. Apple and Google previously collaborated on creating standards for contact tracing in smartphones. The EU has suggested that the tech giants might collaborate again on these efforts with the World Health Organization, but the WHO has since denied this. Now as vaccine rollouts gather pace, the prospect of these digital passports or certificates have caught the eye of many different industries.

Vaccine passports could prove to be a privacy minefield for regulators, CNBC, Mar 30

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