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UK vaccine passport data will be used after lockdowns end and for “attendance at domestic events”

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Yesterday, the UK government put COVID status certificates live in the National Health Service (NHS) app and the associated privacy policy suggests that domestic vaccine passports will soon be a feature of modern life in the country.

The NHS claims that the vaccine passport feature is “designed as a simple and easy means to enable users to show their covid vaccine status for international travel.”

However, the privacy policy for this “Covid Status Certificates” program states that the data is being used for a much wider scope.

In a section titled “What is the purpose for the processing of personal data?,” the policy confirms that data will be used after the UK government ends its lockdowns:

“The principle of the Covid Status Certificate programme is to ensure that illness and death from Covid-19 can be minimised as the UK’s social and economic life is re-established. This will apply both during and after the Government “roadmap” allows citizens to emerge from the restrictions placed on the country during the COVID-19 pandemic response.”

In the same section, it suggests that the data will soon be used for attendance at domestic events:

“The Covid Status Certificate provides citizens with evidence of their vaccination history. As the country resumes normal functions, this data will be useful for further aspects of unlocking as they arise, e.g for International travel or attendance at domestic events once these have been permitted by government policy and guidance.”

Additionally, the privacy policy states that it will be collecting “Special Category Data” which includes “Information relating to the individual’s physical or mental health condition” and that this data will be for “Only vaccination events.”

The publication of this far-reaching privacy policy follows the UK government claiming that it’s still “considering a range of evidence around COVID-status certification and whether it may have a role in opening up higher-risk settings safely” just over a week ago.

Not only are domestic vaccine passports discriminatory but they’re also a privacy nightmare. For example, the domestic vaccine passport system in New York has been plagued with privacy issues that allow anyone to access someone else’s health records.

Silkie Carlo, the director of privacy and civil liberties watchdog Big Brother Watch, said that this is a “matter of constitutional significance” and warned of the dire privacy implications of these Covid Status Certificates.

“This app is a direct link into your medical records,” Carlo said. “There is a lot of sensitive data at stake here that we are apparently now, by the back door, in a backroom decision that has not been subjected to any kind of democratic process at all, we’re gonna be expected to show this at civilian checkpoints internally in our own country.”

She also suggested that the use of domestic vaccine passports at concerts and events could just be the starting point.

“How long is it before this becomes schools, colleges, universities, and all the rest of it?” Carlo said. “I don’t think it’s just going to be places people are choosing to go.”

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