Denmark is planning to issue digital corona passports to its citizens. These digital passports ascertaining the proof regarding people’s vaccination will substantially help them to travel smoothly across different countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused irretrievable damages to various sectors of the global economy. Especially sectors pertaining to tourism and travel have been harshly impacted. But, the beginning of vaccination drives across the world might portray a glimmer of hope. In regard to the massive inoculation drives that are going on, several European nations are now contemplating to give digital certificates that will have proof of a person’s vaccination credentials.

Recently, Denmark is planning to issue digital corona passports to its citizens. This might happen as soon as in the coming summers. Denmark’s Finance Minister Morten Boedrkov said this step is quite crucial to further the steps in strengthening the start of Danish economy ahead. Moreover, these passports will be based on mobile applications. 

These digital passports ascertaining the proof regarding people’s vaccination will substantially help them to travel smoothly across the countries. Further, to avoid tourism losses, European commission is also considering a series of proposals to issue digital vaccination certificates which are indeed documents of vaccination. This would help tourists and travellers in Europe to reach their holiday destinations hassle-free in summers. 

Digital corona passport systems across the world

Currently, European Union has affirmed that such digital certificates regarding vaccine shot will only be used for monitoring various side-effects of vaccines on the people. Basically, the aim behind issuing such digital passports and vaccine credentials is to allow people to return freely and safely to their workplaces, schools and offices.

In the United Kingdom, VST Enterprises, a british cyber technology firm had already developed a system of digital health passports called as V-Health passport back in April 2020. There they have over 200 clinics affiliated with this system in the country. At that time, these passports were used to authenticate the COVID status of the people who used to travel through various public transit systems. Such identity based COVID related credentials were self-sovereign identity cards.

In the United States, a similar kind of technology based system has been developed which gives travellers encrypted digital wallets along with crucial vaccination credentials. ‘CommonPass’ which is developed in the US will be able to track vaccination related data. Now, it seems that several airlines in the country are also considering the implementation of this technology to make sure the vaccination status of their passengers.

The initiative regarding establishing a faultless digital system of checking people’s vaccination status is being developed by a coalition of Microsoft, Oracle and the US non-profit health organisation Mayo Clinic. The ‘CommonsProject’ will be entailed internationally across a number of nations post its development. 

Mr. Paul Meyers, CEO, CommonsProject said that they are in talks with several countries who would be able to entail this hybrid system. Under this, passengers and tourists will be asked to either prove their COVID-negative status or show the proof of  their vaccination status.

As of now, two firms namely iProov and cyber security group Mvine are being funded by the UK government for their pilot project. There they have received the startup funding of 75,000 euros from the government. The system developed by these firms will allow people to upload the information regarding their vaccination status on an app.

Amid the risk of new virulent variants of coronavirus, people have gradually started travelling across the world. But due to various restrictions form government tourists are facing a lot of problems at airports regarding confirmation of their COVID status. With that, various risks still persist where people can easily violate COVID norms by showing fake COVID credentials or by using unsafe QR and barcode practices which may increase the scope of the transmission of the virus.

Threats of using a digital passport system

As countries prepare to adopt digital passport systems to ensure vaccination details of passengers, several civil liberties organisations have expressed apprehension regarding dangers of such a system. They are especially wary of vaccine apartheid that may come up in the recent future. This would tend to discriminate people for entry into premises on the basis of their vaccination status and digital IDs which will prove to be quite oppressive. 

Apart from that, usual privacy concerns are also being expressed in the public as these apps will give an unfair and unwarranted access to bureaucrats and officials about people’s personal information on travel, work and vaccination status. This will indeed accentuate government interference in people’s personal lives.

Besides, this sort of data accumulation tactics will also worsen the problem of cybercrimes. The risks of cybercriminals hacking sensitive data of the public while using it for various sorts of malicious activities and crimes in bad faith is something that cannot be neglected.