As COVID vaccinations grow in number, governments and private companies around the world are racing to create tools that support the re-opening of economies and allow normal air travel, while ensuring citizen safety.
Digital Health Passports, also known as COVID Passports, have emerged as an increasingly popular potential solution, allowing vaccinated individuals to upload and easily share their vaccine status using a QR code or similar method. The technology is mostly being explored as a tool to screen individuals for safety prior to air travel, but is also being considered as a precaution prior to accessing other spaces, such as places of work, restaurants or music venues.
DeleteMe, a service for removing personal info from data brokers, surveyed 1,110 Americans to get their quick takes on Health Passport. The results show that Americans are divided over the new technology and that there may be more risks to it than most authorities are willing to admit.
“Our research shows 47% of Americans support the implementation of health passports even if there are privacy risks, 39% oppose them, and the remaining 14% are on the fence about it,” says Rob Shavell, co-founder and CEO. “Older generations are more skeptical about the technology than young Americans by a thin margin, while many respondents under the age of 35 see health passports as “just another app.”
“Overall, there remain a lot of unanswered questions about what data should be made public and how it will get used after being collected, especially by the universe of data brokers out there collecting personal information on everyone and selling it to the highest bidders. Despite our eagerness to protect society and re-open our economy, we need to be careful about what access we grant the government and private companies to our personal information, especially data as personal as medical history and vaccination status,” adds Shavell.
Beyond the findings of the survey, privacy experts at DeleteMe released a list of potential concerns about the technology, which include:
• Risk of Data Breach, Stemming from Poor Security Protocols
• Risk of De-Facto or Intentional Discrimination Against Non-Adopters of the Technology
• Fear of Government or “Big-Tech” Overreach, Using Data for Non-authorized Purposes
• Concerns that Data Could be Accessed by and Sold to Data Brokers
Amid these rising citizen concerns, DeleteMe is adding to its removal services the capability to monitor for vaccine-related info showing up exposed on Google searches for people’s names and being freely advertised to and sold in profiles by data brokers.
“Properly implemented, health passports could be a valuable tool in the fight to re-open. But at DeleteMe, we want every individual using this technology to maintain full control over their data to ensure it doesn’t get used for unauthorized purposes,” said Shavell.