Vaccine passports spark health privacy fears – ‘What kind of system are we building?’

Boris Johnson discusses ‘vaccine passports’

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An intelligence and data expert has raised concerns the vaccine passport could be discriminatory and a major infringement on personal data. Speaking to Times Radio host John Pienaar, Elliot Jones was asked whether he thought vaccine certificates are a good idea for Britons. He said they are not necessary given the succesful rollout of the vaccine programme and was worried that those who cannot take the vaccine could be discriminated against for attending events. 

He also stressed concerns about the kind of system the programme would build and where Britons personal data would end up.

Asked whether he thought vaccine certificates are a good idea in Britain, Mr Jones said “I don’t think so, no.”

He added: “Here, we have already got a very good vaccination campaign going.”

The data boffin explained how the Government’s current roadmap is planning “hopefully to drop all restrictions by summer” and that therefore a passport for vaccinations would be redundant after that.

He explained: “It seems almost kind of useless to some extent that we are going to have it for a couple of months and then there doesn’t seem to be any use for it after that.”

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Mr Jones went on to ask “why we are putting all the time and effort” into the passport programme and raised concerns of where this programme will end, citing fears of discrimination of groups as well as health data protection for the future.

He said: “There is the discrimination angle, there are some groups for very legitimate reasons who are more worried about taking the vaccine, some groups who are younger who just can’t have it now.

The data expert added: “The other side is if this is not going to be a ‘have it for a couple of months and then get rid of it, what kind of system are we building for the future?”

Mr Jones warned that the UK could be “building in a system of sharing health information, of digital identification, that then doesn’t get unrolled after the pandemic is over.”

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The data experts warnings come as others medical professionals raise concerns the certificates could contribute to “widening existing inequalities” in the UK.

The Royal College of GPs voiced possible oversights the system could present when used at hospitality venues.

The college warned the certificates could potentially give the Government access to sensitive medical data.

It also warned the system could be a limiting factor for customers who do not have the technology or knowledge to present the certificate.


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Earlier, during an appearance on Good Morning Britain, comedian Abi Roberts hit out at the idea, likening it to her experience as a child living in the USSR.

She said: “I didn’t realise I’d woken up in the UKSSR under the Communist-servative Party run by Boris Johnson.

“I should explain I’ve lived in a totalitarian regime, I’ve been to the Soviet Union when I was a kid in the 80s and this is all very reminiscent of the time when you’d hear people say, ‘papers please.'”

“I do not want to live in a totalitarian police state, thank you very much.”

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