From the article behind the WaPo paywall
The passports are expected to be free and available through applications for smartphones, which could display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said.
Other countries are racing ahead with their own passport plans, with the European Union pledging to release digital certificates that would allow for summer travel.
U.S. officials say they are grappling with an array of challenges, including data privacy and health-care equity. They want to make sure all Americans will be able to get credentials that prove they have been vaccinated, but also want to set up systems that are not easily hacked or passports that cannot be counterfeited, given that forgeries are already starting to appear.
Along with private technology and travel companies, the Biden administration is working to develop credentials –referred to as passports, health certificates or travel passes – showing proof of vaccination as individuals and businesses emerge from lockdown, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
Airline and business groups had been lobbying the White House to take the lead in setting standards for health passes. They believe that would avoid a hodgepodge of regional credentials that could cause confusion among travelers and prevent any single health certificate from being widely accepted.
According to the Washington Post, the administration’s efforts are housed in offices of Health and Human Services, with the White House this month taking a “bigger role coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients.”
“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,” Zients said at a March 12 briefing.
The passports offer a glimpse of a future after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Officials say getting vaccinated and having proper documentation will smooth the way to travel, entertainment and other social gatherings in a post-pandemic world.
But it also raises concerns about dividing the world along the lines of wealth and vaccine access, creating ethical and logistical issues for decision-makers around the world.
“A chaotic and ineffective vaccine credential approach could hamper our pandemic response by undercutting health safety measures, slowing economic recovery, and undermining public trust and confidence,” reads one slide at a March 2 conference prepared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
There are several private-sector initiatives creating passports.
The trade group for global airlines, the International Air Transport Association, is testing a version it calls Travel Pass.
IBM is developing another, called a Digital Health Pass. Currently, the digital pass allows New Yorkers to download proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The app is similar to a mobile airline boarding pass and uses a secure QR code that can be stored in a smartphone or printed out. Officials said the technology doesn’t store or track private health data within the app.
Source: Fox Business
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