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Applying 'Good ID' Principles to Digital Health Passes

Good ID Awards Community Champion, the Good Health Pass Collaborative, shares its thoughts on good ID and digital health passes

In February 2021, ID2020 launched the Good Health Pass Collaborative, bringing together more than 125 global companies and organizations from the health, travel, and technology sectors to apply ‘good ID’ principles to the development of digital health passes.

Governments have an obligation to protect their citizens against the cross-border spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, especially as new variants arise. But blanket travel prohibitions – while necessary and appropriate early in the pandemic – have proven to be blunt tools with significant economic and social impacts.

Originally envisioned as a means to restore international travel, digital health passes are gaining new traction as proof of COVID status (vaccination, test, and/or recovery) and are increasingly being required for other purposes (e.g. return to work, attendance at public events etc.). With the proliferation of counterfeit vaccination cards, verifiable digital health passes will be essential for ensuring that large-scale vaccination and testing mandates can achieve their desired objectives.

Digital health passes would allow airlines, border control agencies, and other authorized verifiers to check an individuals’ COVID status in real-time and offer our best hope of safely restoring international travel – and resuming other aspects of public life – in the foreseeable future.

To fulfill their intended purpose, digital health passes must be widely adopted and universally accepted. This means they must be:

  • Trusted: Individuals must feel confident that their personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) will be protected, and that they will retain control (and transparency) over where, when, and with whom they are consenting to share data.
  • Convenient: Digital health passes must be easy to obtain and use and support a seamless user experience.
  • Reliable: Individuals must have certainty that their digital health pass will be universally accepted by airlines, border control agencies, and other authorized verifiers (e.g. employers, event venues etc.).

But, in order for digital health passes to be universally accepted, they must be:

  • Effective: Grounded in scientific evidence, digital health passes must reduce the risk of transmission to an acceptable level by allowing verifiers to obtain verifiable proof that an individual meets the relevant vaccination, testing, and/or recovery requirements.
  • Verifiable: Governments and other verifiers must be able to trust that the pass was issued by a reputable authority, that it is genuine, and that it has not been tampered with or falsified.
  • Interoperable: Digital health passes must be built to open standards, which will allow verifiers to check an individual’s COVID status irrespective of which health pass application they choose to use.

Applying “Good ID” Principles to “Good Health Passes”

In February, the Collaborative released its first white paper, Good Health Pass: a Safe Path to Global Reopening, which laid out a set of guiding principles to which good digital health passes must adhere. The Good Health Pass principles were designed to align with those articulated in the ID2020 Manifesto, which was developed in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In August, the Collaborative followed up with the release of the Good Health Pass Interoperability Blueprint, which proposes technical specifications aimed at achieving global interoperability among digital health passes. Digital health passes built to these specifications would make it possible to verify an individual's COVID status, while simultaneously ensuring that privacy and security, user control, and inclusivity are protected.

If implemented, the Blueprint could offer a rapid path to globally interoperable and universally-accepted digital health passes

The Blueprint represents the collective work of more than 120 experts from multiple sectors whose contributions were coordinated through Trust Over IP Foundation. We are profoundly grateful for their support.