After cooperating with a company that commended changing vaccine passports into documents that serve various purposes, the UK government was indicted of secretly implementing the National Identity Card program.
Entrust, an IT company that claims to be a “global leader in identity, payment and data conservation” allotted an agreement from the Ministry of Health and Social Care previous month to be responsible for the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine certification system. According to sources the company received £250,000 (US$346,000) to dispense cloud computing services for the government’s Covid status certification program. The agreement terminates in March 2022, but the government can choose to extend it for another year.
Last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that international travel will require evidence of vaccination, and in past weeks there have been news that the UK government may made it mandatory for public to provide documents for participation in sports related or other crowded events.
From Entrust’s own position on this matter, the government might be planning some more enthusiastic plans for digital certifications.
Jann Markey – Director of Product marketing at Entrust – said in a blog post that this emergence of vaccine passports is a part of new normal infrastructure and it must be considered as chance.
“Consider a national ID strategy: With the infrastructure and investment needed to ensure that vaccine passports are viable, why not redeploy this work to a national citizenship ID program that can be used for multiple functions, including the safe provision of government Services, safe cross-border travel and vaccination documents”, the blog discusses vaccine passports in the “post-pandemic world.”
It is worth noting that the US-based company has helped Albania, Ghana and Malaysia deploy national ID systems.
Entrust’s partnership with the British government has aroused the vigilance of civil liberties organizations and legislators.
Tory MP David Davis, a member of the Covid Anti-Block Recovery Group, has asked the government for an explanation. Moreover, he said that it is “extraordinary” that the health department can sign agreements with these companies without first obtaining parliamentary approval.
Former Conservative Party leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith also expressed similar dissatisfaction, asserting that the contract contradicted “the established position of the government” and should be cancelled.
The privacy and civil liberties organization Big Brother Watch stated that the Entrust contract represents an attempt by the government to issue ID cards “through the back door.”
“The fact that the government has entered into an agreement with Entrust that openly plans the route from vaccine passports to digital ID cards only underscores how serious a threat Covid would pose to our civil liberties and privacy,” Research leader Jake Hurfurt warned.
A spokesman for the health department insisted that the NHS application used to verify vaccination status should not be used as a national identification system, describing the system as a “simple and secure tool” to allow international travel. When contacted Entrust, it refused to comment.