‘Biometric IDs and Vaccine Passports: Safety at The Expense of Personal Freedoms.’

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Digital IDs and health passports are being talked up as the only way to return to normal amid COVID-19 but open the door to an unprecedented central surveillance system and an end to personal autonomy through coercion. And while they are being pitched as optional, those who opt out face exclusion from the most fundamental of freedoms.

A report from a London and DC-based think tank predicts that COVID Vaccination Certificates will be a prerequisite for essential domestic activities and international travel. The Centre for Global Development (CGD) think tank highlighting several reasons why it believes some form of digital COVID Vaccination Certificate (CVC) will be part of the new normal.

 

“It is not a matter of if—but when—a COVID Vaccination Certificate will be a prerequisite for essential activities, especially cross-border travel” — Centre for Global Development Report.

“To be fit for purpose, such a credential would need to be trusted and able to serve as an on-demand proof of vaccination for both international travel and domestic purposes—anytime and anywhere” — Centre for Global Development Report

And it is only a matter of time, the report argues, until some form of digital COVID vaccination proof will be required for citizens all over the world to participate in essential activities, a digital slave grid. This same level of consent is now being touted as a prerequisite for participating in domestic activities with the help of digital identities.

“Many in power hope to make compliance to digital IDs intertwined with vaccination, if not by force, then through coercion” — Andreas Vou, European Data Journalism Network.

Digital identity systems have long been pursued by governments as a means of financial and civic inclusion while cutting back on fraud, and the idea of leveraging COVID passports with digital identities is quickly gaining global momentum.

A digital identity keeps a record of everything you do online, including what you share on social media, the websites you visit, and your smartphone’s geolocation, and it can house all the credentials you would normally find in a physical wallet, such as your driver’s license, insurance, and credit cards.

According to an article by European Data Journalism Network author Andreas Vou, “Many in power hope to make compliance to digital IDs intertwined with vaccination, if not by force, then through coercion.”

 

“Digital IDs and health passports are being talked up as the only way to return to normal amid COVID-19 but open the door to an unprecedented central surveillance system and an end to personal autonomy through coercion,” Andreas Vou added.

These digital avatars of our physical bodies “determine what products, services and information we can access – or, conversely, what is closed off to us,” according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report from 2018.

 

“Digital ID for me is a very big part of the future […] Inevitably, governments are going to move in this direction — absolutely, inevitably” — Tony Blair.

 

In his talk, Blair did not make the case for why having a digital identity was actually necessary to prevent a cyber pandemic, but rather that digital identities would be an inevitable part of the digital ecosystem, and so governments should work with technology companies to protect and regulate their use.

“And so, what I think’s most important is that we from the political side wake-up to the potential of technology and engage with the changemakers inventing the technology, so that we understand it and can regulate it sensibly and not stupidly.”

Digital identity is a major component of the WEF’s great reset agenda as it relates to transformative technologies powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. COVID vaccine passports would be just one component of a wider digital identity scheme that, according to Wired contributor Brett Solomon, “Poses one of the gravest risks to human rights of any technology that we have encountered.”

 

Despite grave risks that threaten all of society, prominent politicians and powerful institutions are adamant that digital identity is the wave of the future. Speaking at the WEF’s cyber pandemic simulation exercise, Cyber Polygon 2020, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that digital IDs will be a very big part of the future.

“Inevitably, governments are going to move in this direction — absolutely, inevitably,” “Common sense to move in the direction of digital IDs as part of efforts to fight coronavirus”. – Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said

 

But while governments and corporations move towards adoption, Vou warns that “many in power hope to make compliance to digital IDs intertwined with vaccination, if not by force, then through coercion.”

 

You do not need a government mandate to coerce a citizen into getting a COVID vaccine passport — all you need is to take away their ability to travel, to gather in public places, or to participate in civic functions if they do not. The same goes for private companies. They cannot force you to prove you have been jabbed, but they can deny you access to goods and services if you do not.

According to Vou, “Governments and companies, while claiming that digital health IDs will be optional, are threatening those who opt out with exclusion from the most fundamental of freedoms, which equates to outright coercion into a system that gravely threatens privacy and personal autonomy.”

The World Economic Forum’s January 2020 White Paper on ‘Reimagining Digital Identity’ talked up the need for cooperation between the public and private sectors, and collaboration across industries on such IDs, including healthcare, travel, and financial services.

 

Mastercard and Microsoft joined forces in 2018 to work on a global digital identity system, which includes access to health, financial and social services with various governments. Emblematic of the public-private merge on digital ID, France became the first European country to form a “Partnership for the digital economy” with Mastercard in January 2020 for four years.

And the European Commission outlined a ‘Roadmap on Vaccination’ linked to a digital health passport before the virus outbreak even began, last updated in Q3 of 2019. It was always going to happen anyway.

 

And in another 2017 / 18 EU Health Document: It says to: “Establish an electronic vaccination passport to ensure people know and act in their best interests on vaccinations” And “We recommend the implementation of a European Vaccines e-Passport: a digital solution to manage vaccine data across Europe.” And: “For European citizens, a vaccine e-Passport will increase their vaccine knowledge, provide a secure history, and highlight gaps in their immunization schedule. Let us work to create a vaccination e-Passport”

 

It details a plan spanning from 2018 to 2022 to “examine the feasibility of developing a common vaccination card/passport for EU citizens” and “develop EU guidance for establishing comprehensive electronic immunisation information systems”.

Also, among the aims listed is to “overcome the legal and technical barriers impeding the interoperability of national immunisation information systems” and mentions its need to strengthen partnerships with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) and Gavi among others and continue to support research and innovation projects through Horizon 2020.

The idea of needing a vaccination verified by an application to access cinemas and restaurants, or to travel by air, was regarded a conspiracy theory at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, yet such digital health passports are now in the process of being rolled out and are being rolled out worldwide and hailed as the only way to return to normality. Is it now too late to stop them?

While advocates in the public and private sectors speak of COVID vaccine passports as being essential for opening back up safely, fostering digital inclusion, and providing equitable access, critics warn of the erosion of civil liberties by a global, technocratic agenda that uses mass surveillance and coercion to bend citizen behaviour to its will — real-world exclusion disguised as digital inclusion.

While digital identities show promise towards improving the livelihoods of millions when governed ethically, they are also used by authoritarian governments to profile and police citizen behaviour under a social credit system.

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