Immunity Certificates: If We Must Have Them, We Must Do It Right

Category: Privacy
Author: Dakota Gruener
Date: April 20th, 2020

While widespread social distancing orders have proven effective at containing the spread of the COVID19 virus (Harris 2020), the economic, social, and psychological consequences are enormous and cannot be maintained indefinitely (Sullivan and Chalkidoi 2020). As testing capacity ramps up, public health officials and policy makers are increasingly calling for the development of a verifiable credential or “immunity certificate" that would allow individuals to prove their COVID-19 status. This is a complex proposal, one that raises concerns about privacy, exclusion, and inequality. But preserving public health does not have to compromise personal rights. Identifying those who either have the antibodies to defeat the virus or have tested negative for the virus within a defined time period (and thus can safely return to work and school) can be done using identity technology that places control of private data in the hands of the individual.

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