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Petition Launched Against New York State's COVID-19 Passport

Petition Launched Against New York State's COVID-19 Passport
This undated photo, provided by the N.Y. governor's press office on Saturday March 27, 2021, shows the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP)

By    |   Monday, 29 March 2021 11:04 AM

A new app championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., called the Excelsior Pass has some people up in arms.

A petition launched on Change.org asks people to say "no" to the app that provides businesses and entertainment venues with digital proof of your vaccination status or negative COVID-19 tests results.

According to Change.org, if you fail to provide the information by displaying a green check on the app, you may be refused entry or be asked for alternative proof of vaccination or testing. The organization says that the Excelsior Pass discriminates against New York residents with health issues who cannot be vaccinated, according to an NBC affiliate.

"Please sign today to say NO to this platform, it is an invasion of privacy and basic human rights!" says the petition, adding that the app was created by IBM and there is not sufficient data available on its security regarding personal health information. As of Monday, over 2,677 people have signed the petition.

State officials told the NBC affiliate that there are "robust" privacy protections throughout the digital health app using an encrypted phone wallet or printed pass. The program is voluntary, said health officials, and user info is kept confidential.

According to USA Today, the Excelsior Pass is the first in the nation to offer a prototype of a vaccine pass that will allow people to attend large-scale arenas such as Madison Square Garden and other events statewide. Users of the app will be able to display a QR, or quick response, code to prove their health status.

To download the app, people will need to enter their name, date of birth, zip code and answer questions to confirm their identity. The data will be linked to state’s vaccine registry and pre-approved testing companies, says USA Today.

The IBM digital health pass has built-in security that is said to ensure that neither IBM nor any business or venue will have access to private health information. When the QR code is scanned at the venue, only a red X or a green check will appear confirming COVID-19 status.

Experts say that along with the IBM pass, retailers such as Walmart are issuing digital vaccine passes so that customer and employees do not have to carry around a piece of paper proving that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

New York's support o the Excelsior Pass may pave the way for other states, and perhaps the whole country, to consider vaccine passports to help reopen the economy and boost travel.

Israel became the first country to issue a "green passport" in February to residents who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to its Ministry of Health. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that proof of vaccination "will be essential for public health services," that include studies on vaccine effectiveness, vaccine impact, and monitoring post-vaccine adverse events.

Chezy Levy, Israel's Ministry of Health’s Director-General said that a vaccine passport offers many benefits to the holder.

"This passport will show that a person is vaccinated and will give a number of advantages such as not needing to quarantine, entry to all kinds of culture events, restaurants and so on," he said, according to Newsweek.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) that represents 300 member airlines announced the development of the IATA Travel Pass, an app that would store documentation about COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination. According to Newsweek, the app is expected to be available for both iOS and Android in 2021.

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State officials told the NBC affiliate that there are "robust" privacy protections throughout the digital health app using an encrypted phone wallet or printed pass...
new york, governor, cuomo, covid, passport, excelsior pass
Monday, 29 March 2021 11:04 AM
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