Such passports pose ethical challenges for liberty-embracing societies.
As the COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues across this country, Biden’s administration is steaming ahead with COVID-19 “passports.” These aim to reduce travel restrictions ahead of the summer travel season.
Along with private technology and travel companies, the Biden administration is working to develop credentials – referred to as passports, health certificates or travel passes – showing proof of vaccination as individuals and businesses emerge from lockdown, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
Airline and business groups had been lobbying the White House to take the lead in setting standards for health passes. They believe that would avoid a hodgepodge of regional credentials that could cause confusion among travelers and prevent any single health certificate from being widely accepted.
According to the Washington Post, the administration’s efforts are housed in offices of Health and Human Services, with the White House this month taking a “bigger role coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients.”
The policy reverses a position once touted by Biden.
The Biden administration previously said the federal government should not be involved in efforts to create a vaccine passport system to verify that people have been vaccinated.
The Post, citing five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reported the effort “has been driven largely by arms of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology.”
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients has led the White House’s role in coordinating the project, an official told the Post.
So, no identification is required to vote. However, the administration is forging a whole new system of identification that may impact Americans significantly.
…[T]here are legal and ethical questions about whether the passports could widen inequities that have already become a troubling hallmark of the pandemic.
Public health experts and bioethicists say digital credentialing could discriminate against disadvantaged populations. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, argues that using smartphone-based verification to access public places would create a two-tiered system that bars people who can’t work, shop or attend school because they don’t have a cell phone or access to testing.
Beyond the ethical considerations is the separate question of whether the fragile U.S. health tech infrastructure can withstand a barrage of new apps tapping vaccine data.
Data troves containing immunization records vary in quality from state to state and may not be able to handle a surge of real-time queries about vaccination status, said Deanne Kasim, executive director at Change Healthcare, which is part of a consortium including Microsoft and Salesforce working on standards and technology for passports. Her company argues for a “lighter lift” and teaming up with pharmacies, which have more robust record-keeping systems.
There also are privacy considerations. Requiring people to store test and vaccination results in digital format could expose them to the kind of data breaches that have proliferated during the pandemic. “We wanted data to reside on patients’ phone” as opposed to a database, where individuals can control the data, Kasim said.
Furthermore, there is always a way to manipulate the system.
I found some blank COVID passports.
Please feel free to share this with friends and family. pic.twitter.com/SDpxyLL0Pg
— Storm_Chaser (@StmCh_) March 28, 2021
These passports pose ethical challenges for liberty-embracing societies. However, it is becoming increasingly obvious the occupants currently in the White House struggle little with moral or ethical issues.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.