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Another airline floats idea of mandatory digital vaccine pass to allow flight

Rights groups are concerned about privacy and civil liberties.
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Another airline has said that digital “COVID passports” are “essential” if normal travel is to resume. But critics feel these passports are an invasion of privacy.

In an interview with reporters, the CEO of Cebu Pacific, the largest budget airline in the Philippines, Lance Gokongwei, said the airliner supported the idea of COVID passports or immunity passports.

“We do think that’s essential, especially as we open up international travel,” Gokongwei said. He added that there are “different vaccines, and I think we have to work on a single, global COVID passport so that each country respects the passport.”

He emphasized that vaccination should be a priority.

“That has to be the number one priority: to get vaccines in the hands of as much of the global population as possible, and then connecting this to a COVID passport,” he explained.

Cebu Pacific has joined the growing list of airliners advocating for mandatory digital COVID passports, despite pushback from digital and civil rights groups.

Currently, tech companies are in a race to produce immunity passports. In fact, the testing of these passports has begun at some airports.

International SOS, a travel security firm, developed a COVID passport dubbed AOKpass. The company is conducting trials of the passport on flights flying between Pakistan and Abu Dhabi.

The World Economic Forum has also sponsored a COVID passport system called CommonPass.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA), the largest air transport lobby group globally, is also working on a COVID passport system, which will link an individual’s travel documents with their coronavirus test results and vaccination status.

However, many rights groups have challenged the proposals. “Digital health passports may contribute to the long-term management of the Covid-19 pandemic, but their introduction poses essential questions for the protection of data privacy and human rights,” said Dr. Ana Beduschi, who authored a report by researchers at the University of Exeter warning about the potential civil liberty problems that could result from immunity passports.

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