Paper vaccination certificates are one of the oldest tools that health agencies have used to overcome challenges such as epidemics. For instance, during the smallpox outbreaks of the 1880s, both students and teachers in public schools were required to have vaccination cards to show that they had been vaccinated against the disease.
During the yellow fever epidemic of the 1960s, the World Health Organization introduced the yellow card to help curb the proliferation of the disease overseas. The yellow card is still required in order to travel to some places around the world.
History is set to repeat itself once again as the US braces itself for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine which is considered by regulators as the ticket to opening the world economy. Those in the know say that this time the vaccination health certificate will come in digital form.
Major airlines such as Lufthansa, JetBlue, and United have already stated their intentions to introduce something called the CommonPass, which is a health passport app that passengers will be required to present as proof of vaccination or test results.
Through the app, confirmation codes will be generated to show that the passenger is clear to board. Reports state that a similar digital credential system will soon be utilized in entertainment venues, summer camps, schools, and places of employment.
Of course, this digital vaccination certificate has been introduced under the guise of curbing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic and bringing back economic activity to the world. It will enable college campuses and major employment offices to open up safely. These certificates are also expected to enable entertainment venues and activities to resume, including sports arenas, cruise ships, and movie theatres.
Although this sounds all good and well, there’s a major concern around the division that a health pass of this sort might cause. For instance, there are those who may not be able to afford vaccines or may not have access to online verification tools required to gain access to these desirable destinations.
Then there’s the question of how this app will affect people’s civil liberties as it could be an invasive form of social control not too different from the Chinese CCP social security system which involves a level of surveillance that’s reprehensible to liberty-leaning individuals and those who live in democratic countries.
It’s important to remember that this wouldn’t be the first time in history that public health would have been leveraged to enact wide-ranging tyranny. If history is truly repeating itself, then these apps could very well be utilized as a tool of control to keep certain people from accessing general society due to being deemed “undesirable.”
Needless to say, ushering in a system of digital control can open a whole can of worms for a society that hasn’t taken the time necessary to fully vet these innovations.
At the very least, it’s worth ensuring that they won’t be leveraged in a way that impedes any one group’s ability to participate in society and they have to go through testing and regulation to make sure that they don’t enable any unwanted discrepancies.