The Biden administration is partnering with private companies to develop a vaccine passport system, claiming it’s the only path to normalcy, but critics warn passports will steal people’s liberty and data.
The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop vaccine passports that would allow Americans to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID as the country opens, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The initiative, driven largely by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has gained momentum as a growing number of companies and venues — from movie theaters, restaurants and music venues to cruise lines and sports teams — have said they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors.
The passports are expected to be free and available through smartphone apps, which would display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. Americans without smartphone access would be able to print out the passports, developers have said.
The White House declined to answer questions about the passport initiative, instead pointing to public statements made by Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator during a March 12 press briefing:
“As we increase the number of people vaccinated, we know some people may have a need to demonstrate that they are vaccinated … our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open-source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy.”
According to CNN, multiple government agencies are engaged in conversations and planning, coordinated by the White House, as this kind of system will play a role in many aspects of life, including potentially the workforce.
One of the most significant hurdles facing federal officials is the number of passport initiatives already underway. The Biden administration this month identified at least 17, according to slides obtained by The Washington Post.