Blockchain could provide privacy-enhancing route for immunity passports

Immunity passports have many challenges including verification, standardisation between countries and counterfeiting, according to a panel discussion at the Last Thursday in Privacy online event on 25 June.

Digital wallets that share the minimum information required to prove immunisation could be a possible solution to the verification problem, according to Jamile Hamideh, Chief Legal Officer at Vinculum.

Because of the way that data is held once verified blockchain offers the advantage of verification and integration across systems. Digital wallets can provide yes or no answers to prove immunisation without sharing unnecessary data such as name and address.

The biggest challenge, the panel argued, was surrounding government implementation as governments will want to tailor their implementation processes. Barry Cook, privacy and group data protection officer for VFS Global, said that this will present a clear challenge to standardisation.

However, government oversight is crucial as it is likely that with few resources, governments will need to outsource the project to experts. He argued that this presents an opportunity for major tech companies to harvest health information.

“Privacy and safety are not mutually exclusive, there cannot be a trade-off,” said Tripti Dhar, certified privacy professional; instead, privacy needs to be inbuilt during the design process.

The panel consisted of Tripti Dhar, a partner in Reina Legal LLP; Michael A. Shapiro, a Senior Counsel and Director of Data Privacy at Clarip; Barry Cook, Privacy & Group Data Protection officer for VFS Global ; and Jamile Hamideh, Chief Legal Officer at Vinculum.

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