Vaccine Passports Will Create a ‘Global Digital Infrastructure of Surveillance’: Former Ontario Privacy Commissioner

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Vaccine passports mandated by governments volition make a highly intrusive surveillance strategy that not lone forces Canadians to uncover their wellness accusation but tin besides way their whereabouts, Ontario’s erstwhile privacy commissioner says.

Epoch Times Photo Ann Cavoukian, erstwhile accusation and privateness commissioner of Ontario. (Courtesy of Ann Cavoukian)

The idiosyncratic accusation linked to each individual’s vaccine passport reveals important information that introduces superior privateness concerns, says Dr. Ann Cavoukian, who present serves arsenic enforcement manager of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre.

“Wherever you person to springiness your vaccine passport, it’s not conscionable the QR code. They’re asking you for identification—your driver’s licence, your telephone number—there’s idiosyncratic accusation linked to it,” said Cavoukian, who is besides a elder chap astatine the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre astatine Ryerson University.

Cavoukian, who served 3 presumption arsenic Ontario’s accusation and privateness commissioner from 1997 to 2014, says the wellness accusation collected done the vaccine passport tin beryllium retained successful relation with a person’s geolocation astir the world.

“There volition beryllium geolocation information associated with wherever you were, and astatine what time. [Governments] tin prosecute successful surveillance and propulsion these each unneurotic and cognize wherever you were, astatine what time, who you were with,” she said.

This benignant of data-tracking volition make a “global integer infrastructure of surveillance” she added, fed by the “hundreds and thousands of sites that are obtaining these vaccine passports from you.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said the province’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect connected Sept. 22, is simply a impermanent measure.

Cavoukian counters that “temporary” measures introduced during emergencies seldom spell away. She cited the illustration of the Sept. 11 violent onslaught against the United States successful 2001 portion she was inactive serving arsenic commissioner.

“What often happens is erstwhile there’s an emergency, the privateness laws get lifted due to the fact that it’s an exigency concern and further measures are introduced. Then, erstwhile the exigency ends, those privacy-invasive measures often continue,” she said.

“That’s what happened with 9/11, with the Patriot Act, and others. And truthful my fearfulness is that radical are going to conscionable expect to person to uncover vaccine presumption connected a go-forward basis, adjacent erstwhile the pandemic ends.”

Epoch Times Photo The Quebec government’s caller vaccine passport, called VaxiCode, is shown connected a telephone successful Montreal connected Aug. 25, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

The USA Patriot Act was introduced successful the aftermath of 9/11 arsenic a means for the U.S. authorities to summation its quality to intercept and obstruct violent communications and activities. The enactment expanded the government’s powerfulness to show telephone and email communications, behaviour searches, and prehend oregon request disclosure of records.

‘It should ne'er beryllium privateness versus nationalist safety’

Cavoukian says the authorities has nary ineligible ground to request that radical uncover their aesculapian information, including their vaccination status.

“Health accusation is precise powerfully protected,” said Cavoukian. “In Canada, successful Ontario, we person the PHIPA, the Personal Health Information Protection Act. So it should beryllium lone an individual’s prime if they privation to uncover this information.”

“With vaccine passports, radical are being forced, they’re demanded to uncover their vaccine status. And that should beryllium nary one’s concern but for the idiosyncratic and their ain doctor.”

Debates astir the merits of vaccine passports continue, with immoderate experts contending that the strategy volition support radical safer and let the system to reopen, with the communal bully outweighing immoderate privateness issues.

Epoch Times Photo Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland clasp a property league successful Ottawa connected Oct. 6, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

Cavoukian calls this statement “nonsense” due to the fact that privateness infringements inherently marque citizens much vulnerable. She says that alternatively of vaccine passports, little invasive measures specified arsenic accelerated investigating could beryllium introduced.

“It should ne'er beryllium privateness versus nationalist safety. It’s not a zero-sum game, either-or, win-lose. It has to [be] privateness and nationalist safety,” Cavoukian said.

The privateness adept said her concerns widen to Canadians who chose not to beryllium vaccinated and whitethorn look favoritism oregon adjacent unemployment related to their vaccination status.

“It’s truthful unfair due to the fact that determination are immoderate radical who are immunocompromised, they person anaphylaxis, they cannot get vaccinated. So those radical are going to beryllium treated terribly.”

British Columbia residents look 1 of the astir stringent proof-of-vaccination systems successful Canada. The B.C. government’s vaccine card, which came into effect connected Sept. 13, allows entree to definite “non-essential” businesses and services portion provincial wellness authorities bash not let immoderate exemptions for those who stay unvaccinated, including radical with analyzable aesculapian conditions.

Vaccine passport systems person been steadily expanding crossed Canada since September, and assorted versions are present enforced oregon planned successful astir each state and territory.

At the national level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced at a associated property league connected Oct. 6 that national employees person until Oct. 29 to beryllium afloat vaccinated oregon look being “placed connected administrative permission without wage arsenic aboriginal arsenic Nov. 15.”

And starting Oct. 30, each travellers aged 12 oregon older volition besides beryllium required to supply impervious of afloat vaccination earlier boarding planes, trains, oregon marine vessels successful Canada.

Cavoukian says she is “very, precise concerned” astir what happens to the vaccine passport systems’ “inescapable web of surveillance” aft the pandemic ends.

“Privacy forms the instauration of our freedom. If you worth state and liberty, you worth privacy,” she said. “We person to basal up for our state and we person to basal up for privacy.”

Isaac Teo


Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times newsman based successful Toronto.