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Fragmentation in details and niches as digital health passes roll out around the world

UK urged to reduce restrictions for vaccinated travelers

biometrics phone mask airport

UK authorities are being asked by the country’s aviation sector to ditch the COVID test and isolation requirements it has imposed on arriving travelers who are fully vaccinated, Reuters reports.

Stakeholders say the UK should align its position with that of the EU, which allows people travelling from 32 countries to skip quarantine, and from 27 to skip testing, if fully vaccinated.

Several popular holiday destinations for Britons are rated “amber” under the UK system, therefore requiring travelers to take three COVID-19 tests and isolate for 10 days when they return home.

Politicians and some civil society groups are alleging that a contract the UK government signed with Entrust is an attempt to introduce a national ID card by stealth, iNews reports.

The £250,000 (US$348,000) contract is to supply the cloud infrastructure for the digital health passes. Former Cabinet Minister and current Conservative MP David Davis seized on claims by Entrust representatives that the same infrastructure could be reused in a national ID system to decry the awarding of a contract to a company “with this sinister attitude to surveillance of citizens.”

Big Brother Watch and Liberty representatives each accused the government of ulterior motives.

Paper for Japan, digital pass for South Korea, lawsuits for US

Japan plans to launch paper documents indicating vaccination status by the end of July to allow its residents to travel internationally, writes Japan Times.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato says talks are ongoing about a possible future shift to a digital credential.

The country is reportedly not planning to accept digital health passes issued abroad to be accepted for arrivals, however.

South Korea has rolled out a digital health pass, in the form of a smartphone app known as ‘COOV’ and developed by Blockchain Labs, with the backing of the Linux Foundation, according to The Telegraph.

The country already uses a tracking app which generates a QR code for access to many indoor venues, and can be used for tracing COVID-19 outbreaks, but the COOV app could also be incorporated into the system, the report says.

“Digital is safer in terms of forgery, and I’m sure the developers are already doing a very good job in security,” commented a Seoul-based doctor interviewed by The Telegraph.  “I even hope this vaccination verification can be done through fingerprints or other forms of biometric data so I don’t have to carry my mobile phone with me everywhere I go.”

The Linux Foundation Public Health initiative launched its Global COVID Certificate Network (GCCN) as a global trust registry earlier in June.

Meanwhile in America, former U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary F. Schiavo of Motley Rice LLC points out in a Law360 article that while America is doubtful to adopt digital health passes as a requirement for movement within the country, crossing borders will likely require travellers to have some kind of proof of vaccination.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued several fines of thousands of dollars each, as two-thirds of in-flight disturbances have been caused by passengers refusing to follow mask-wearing rules, but airlines face a legal minefield in attempting to put any further mandates in place for American passengers, Law360 warns.

New passes and solutions

Telpo says its dual-screen D2 health status checking device with facial recognition and fingerprint biometrics can provide efficient, accurate and safe confirmation of vaccination information.

The D2 was launched in response to the need for vaccination traceability, according to a case study from Telpo, and combines QR code-scanning and other ID card reading capabilities with a dual 10.1-inch HD touchscreen and rich interfaces to support secondary development.

Contactless, automated recording processes are necessary to ensure efficient and accurate data sharing, Telpo says.

A Canadian developer, meanwhile, has built an app dubbed PORTpass to store and share COVID-19 vaccination data, the Calgary Herald reports.

More than 200,000 Canadians have pre-registered to download the PORTpass, which CEO Zak Hussain says provides users with control over their own data, and uses blockchain and artificial intelligence to securely provide credentials for travel, both domestically and internationally.

Canadian government officials have said the country is developing a digital health pass, but so far provided scant detail.

Envoc has released a State-approved digital SMART Health Card to be stored within and delivered from Louisiana’s LA Wallet.

COVID-19 vaccination status is sourced from the Louisiana Department of Public Health, and is compatible with the CommonPass app, according to the announcement.

“Envoc and the State of Louisiana’s adoption of the open and interoperable SMART Health Cards framework is an exciting step toward giving people control over their health information, including the freedom to easily and confidently share their digital vaccination and testing record as they see fit,” said JP Pollack, co-founder and chief architect, The Commons Project.

As of mid-June, more than 100,000 people, or 14 percent of all LA Wallet users had added their COVID-19 vaccination status to the app.

California has opened a digital portal for COVID-19 vaccination records, allowing paper-based credentials to be digitized with records drawn from State records, San Francisco Business Times writes, providing an authentication mechanism and superior protection against forgery.

Digital health passes are being sold for around £100 (US$139) on the dark web, Hacker Noon reports, though some forums are steering clear of the business area, perhaps out of fear of attracting unwanted attention.

Officials are emphasizing that the optional credentials are not “passports,” and are not required for entry to transportation or businesses.

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