The UK Government has launched a new consultation on the subject of digital IDs. The deadline for having your voice heard is noon on Thursday 11th March. We hope that you feel strongly enough about the potential ramifications of digital IDs, let alone the issues arising from the Government handing unregulated Big or Small Tech companies the mandate to handle our personal data, to have your say. Whilst this consultation doesn't specifically mention vaccine passports, the wording around building a "UK digital ID trust framework" is clearly laying the foundations that would allow for such an eventuality in the future.

We have analysed the consultation carefully and assessed the possible ramifications in the wording. Our 5-minute video below provides a brief summary and an overview of our 4 main concerns. Following is a transcript of the content if you prefer the written word.

At the end of this article is a new video from UK Barrister Daniel Barnett (who we featured two weeks ago on mandatory vaccination). This is his newest, balanced legal explainer video reviewing the issues surrounding the introduction of Covid-19 vaccine passports within the UK. You also might like to know that there are two petitions running concurrently in the UK regarding vaccine passports. At the time of writing, the results are as follows:

Introduce a 'Vaccination Passport' for international travel - 4,295 signatures

Do not rollout Covid-19 vaccine passports - 250,804 signatures

That's nearly 60 times (!) more people voting against, rather than for, vaccine passports. That's after most people are desperate to travel, following almost a year of 'house arrest'.

 

Video transcript

The UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is asking for the views of UK citizens via an online survey about its proposed ‘trust framework’ for digital IDs.

The deadline for responses to the DCMS survey is 12pm, 11 March 2021:

This public survey follows a consultation in 2020 that it held with the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service (GDS) that fed into the development of the government-held digital ID approach.

It looked at how government-held digital attributes would be used by citizens, what criteria would be used for trust, and what the role of the government and industry will be in developing digital ID.  

The UK government makes a persuasive argument for why digital IDs might be useful – to citizens – but, unsurprisingly, also for government and industry. These include the usual justifications:

  • They simplify the ID process
  • They’re more convenient than driving licenses, credit cards or other forms of ID
  • They’re more secure
  • They can be applied universally – and internationally, like driving licenses are today
  • And they may be used to try to reduce fraud – including through enhanced surveillance

The main thrust of the survey is around how the government envisages establishing what it calls a ‘trust framework’.

This is about the private sector – notably the tech industry – can go off and build the technology that it can then sell back to authorities, sellers, venues and anyone else that might have cause to want to know someone’s ID.

An important point we want to make before we offer you some suggestions about how you might wish to respond to the survey is that the digital ID movement, driven by Big Tech, Big Government, 5G rollout, and the Internet of Things, has gathered massive momentum.

It’s our view is that this makes it, in effect, unstoppable.

At the same time, we do think we have an opportunity to make our views clear about what should and shouldn’t be included.

What has been largely unspoken about digital IDs up until now is the option for an opt-out. Just like with natural health – it’s about protecting the rights of those who want to do things differently.

The UK government survey that you’ll find in the link below asks you various questions, and offers you blank text fields for some answers.

We think the four most important things that need to be communicated to the UK government through the survey are this:

  1. That there must be no unsolicited sharing of digital ID data with the private sector
  2. We demand that conventional, non-digital IDs are maintained as an option for use alongside digital IDs in all situations where a digital ID may be used
  3. That there is no discrimination, as well as no reduced privileges or penalties for those who do not choose to use digital IDs
  4. That the UK government does not link or incorporate vaccination ‘passports’ into digital IDs, as this would undermine both equity and privacy, while introducing a host of major ethical challenges.

Contrary to advice from the World Health Organization, Boris Johnson has said vaccination passports are coming “whatever” because of pressure from many countries that believe they’re needed for international travel.

Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and others in the UK cabinet need to heed the concerns raised by the World Health Organization in its interim position paper dated 5 February 2021.

The UK Government needs to hear that the British people are not ready to relinquish hard won freedoms and privacy, including over their health care choices

If you’re British, or you live in the UK – please have your say before the 11th of March. We need as many people to share their views as possible.

You’ll find the link to the UK government survey and associated policy paper beneath this video, along with some key points you may wish to include in order to ensure our rights to equality, justice, freedom and privacy are respected.

Please share this video as widely as you can with your friends, family and social networks. Thank you.

 

Vaccine passports - the 'legals' by Barrister Daniel Barnett

 

Find out more

Policy paper: The UK digital identity and attributes trust framework, 11 Feb 2021

Survey link: https://dcms.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4HZDsoOJSCWrV0q

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