- - Tuesday, March 30, 2021

COVID-19 “vaccine passports” will become the next civil-rights crisis of our time. They are un-American, a violation of individual freedom and pose a menacing privacy risk regardless of the entity requiring their use.

Any institution pushing these passports as a “good idea” is trying to destroy liberal democracy. People will be confronted with a stark choice: Either get a COVID-19 vaccination and allow the government to collect data on you or be faced with discrimination.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday said he would take executive action to stop the use of vaccination passports in his state.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society,” he said.

“You want the fox to guard the henhouse?” the Republican governor added. “I think this is something that has huge privacy implications. It is not necessary to do.”



Other Republican governors such as Greg Abbott in Texas, indicated on Twitter they would follow Mr. DeSantis‘ lead.

“Shots are highly recommended to prevent getting Covid but always voluntary,” Mr. Abbott wrote.

The privacy implications of a vaccine passport is colossal. It’s not hard to see how a well-meaning certification system could morph into data misuse, be subject to breaches and raise other ethical questions. Yet blue-state governors seem to be pushing them.

New York State was among the first in the U.S. to rollout vaccine passports, and the governors in Connecticut and Hawaii have openly contemplated launching their own.

New York’s system is devised by IBM and dubbed the Excelsior Pass. It collects personal information like your name, date of birth, ZIP code and keeps details on your most recent vaccine date or negative COVID-19 test. It’s already being deployed to gain entry to events at Madison Square Garden, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it “heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

Although New York’s passport is limited in the information it’s collecting so far, what’s to bar it in the future from not including information of where you’re employed, where you live and include GPS tracking information — all of which is not difficult to obtain digitally. Who is to say how this information can be shared and with what third-party entities?

Additionally, what if a person can’t get a vaccination because of their own medical history? Like if they had a bad reaction to the first shot or if their medical provider recommended against it for a specific reason? Should they be restricted from seeing a movie, going to the grocery store or entering a theme park?

The Biden administration is working with the private sector and states to organize the passport effort, although they said there would be no centralized universal vaccination database and no federal mandate to have one.

Still, there’s a slippery slope argument to be made. More states within the U.S. need to come out like Mr. DeSantis and diametrically oppose the use of such a passport among private businesses.

Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide