The American Civil Liberties Union and some members of the GOP find themselves in rare agreement over the idea of vaccine passports, both expressing privacy concerns and potential government overreach.
“We also worry that a vaccine passport will encourage over-use. The issues around passport design are separate from the question of where and when people can be required to furnish proof of vaccinations,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, wrote in a blog post on the ACLU’s website Wednesday.
Stanley wrote that it’s likely the vaccine passport system “will become over-used as people get asked for credentials at every turn.”
“While there are legitimate circumstances in which people can be asked for proof of vaccination, we don’t want to turn into a checkpoint society that outlasts the danger of COVID and that casually excludes people without credentials from facilities where vaccine mandates are not highly justified,” Stanley continued.
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The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Biden administration has been looking at ways to roll out a vaccine passport program nationwide as more businesses are gearing up to require proof of vaccination to use their services.
White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said that the White House’s role is “to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy.”
Stanley said in a statement to Fox News the ACLU didn’t oppose requiring proof of vaccination “in certain contexts,” but that proof must not be exclusively digital and must not allow for tracking other personal medical information.
“There is also real concern that the creation of vaccine credentials could lead to overuse, or have a chilling effect on immigrant communities and communities of color who are already subject to over-policing and surveillance,” Stanley said. “There are legitimate circumstances in which people can be asked for proof of vaccination, but right now not everyone can get vaccinated. That’s precisely what herd immunity attempts to protect against: community spread to people whose medical conditions contraindicate a vaccine or don’t have access. We don’t want a vaccine passport that leads to our most vulnerable people getting further shut out of full participation in our society.”
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Some Republicans have said they find the idea unconstitutional, while others tied the proposal to voter ID laws.
“Considering that Democrats want to require vaccine IDs for people to conduct their basic daily activities, they now have zero grounds to object to voter ID laws,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told Fox News. “If under Democrat logic, you should need an ID to enter even a grocery store, surely there wouldn’t be an objection to showing an ID to legally vote.”
Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., strongly condemned the idea of vaccine passports.
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“Proposals like these smack of 1940s Nazi Germany. We must make every effort to keep America from becoming a ‘show your papers society,'” Cawthorn told Fox News. “The Constitution and our founding principles decry this type of totalitarianism.”
Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.