Vaccine, New York 's COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Are Here and They're on the Blockchain

You know passport with the excelsior app, which is a blockchain based product from ibm, and the idea is that you know this is a tool that would show you know whether you were negative for covet or pcr test, or you know, kind of serve as a digital Version of that document card that everybody’s kind of showing off right now once they get immunized um. So this is a. There are two parts to this. I think one is the blockchain aspect and two is the sort of digital privacy aspect and there’s been a whole lot of debates raging around this. You know, since last march, when these ideas first started getting iterated upon, but um you know, will i want to get your thoughts on this initially, what do what do you think? Oh i hate this just to be blunt. I think that i so just looking at like the covid phenomenon itself – uh i’m. I’M – pretty hopeful you know. Obviously i don’t have a degree in any of this, but i’ve looked at some stats this morning. I think nearly 25 of uh 65 plus uh people in the u.s are vaccinated and then a large percent of those people have already had covert have gone through it. So i think we’re on the way down, i mean you always have to say that with your fingers crossed uh, but then i also saw yeah. You can correct me if i’m wrong, there uh, but i do these things have been rising really rapidly in the us again too uh over the last few weeks, so it’s looking like we started going down, but now with the variance variances coming up so yeah yeah.

So you always have to say, with your fingers crossed, because the data changes day by day right, that’s, just how all these things work. But i think, like at the bottom of the like the fundamental issue here, there’s a few things going on. First of all, that government is terrible with privacy. As you know, then, like has you’ve been covering anything to do with government. They always lose your data, you’re always exposed to outside forces that can use it, and that introduces complications. That may be worse than than introducing this idea of having some sort of passport to track immunizations like if, if there was a system for you just like having a card in your wallet uh and carrying that around, to show that you’ve been immunized and then there’s Less of chance of your data being leaked, that might be a better alternative. But to me this just comes across as like another uh hatch, together job of getting a tech solution for a social problem, and i don’t see it working very well. I mean blockchain based solutions, don’t work for very many things outside of uh money, so i don’t really understand the purpose of this outside, like from a tech standpoint, just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I think yeah, no jen jump in here. I think when people hear blockchain, they they automatically well a mainstream audience. At least they automatically think it’s, it’s, safer and and your records are going to be stored in in a way that is maybe safer than other solutions on the market.

But i want to kind of pull this back to storing health records on a blockchain. What are the uh kind of privacy concerns there for you ben i mean this is kind of the the issue. You know there’s been a lot of kind of combating forces around whether blockchain in this sense is just a buzzword, um. You know, because the security of these things is sort of questions like a way beyond blockchain right it’s who handle who’s handling it. Who has access to it? The idea of private public partnerships, particularly around uh, any sort of like coveted passport, are really really tricky and complicated. There was a big push in the eu uh early on with two for two kind of bodies of actors, one of which was pushing for an incredibly decentralized model. Uh of storing this information, which means that you know it will be stored locally. It would not be stored on a centralized server that could be you know, sort of uh co opted or used or accessed in a sort of way that a decentralized you know model wouldn’t allow or a centralized model. Where you know, governments have access to all this information it’s centrally stored, it’s a little easier to access in some of these ways, but that also creates a whole host of other questions. So there’s just a whole cascade of complications here and i’ve been covering this. For the last year, so i have all of these different thoughts around it, but um.

You know, there’s also the matter that this is new york’s solution. Other states have other solutions, it’s unclear how these things are going to talk to each other or if they will, and so to me. This is just one example of you know kind of bad messaging around this in some ways because it doesn’t answer some of these really foundational questions, but also a larger societal debate. That’S going on around privacy in covet 19 right now, yeah i’ll jump in um. So there were lots of proposals early on, like especially when we’re talking about tracking devices and all this kind of stuff um for completely private ways to do this. It is absolutely possible. We have things called zero knowledge proofs. There are definitely ways that uh this information like we could have had something similar, but we could have protected privacy uh and i agree with. Will there you know you get the government involved it’s, just a hatchet job and it’s just done terribly and people’s data instead? Is completely vulnerable as a result um, so i had a bunch of friends actually working on this solution right. You know really early on and um they weren’t allowed to so it’s, not just that there wasn’t the knowledge or the talent out there doing this. They didn’t have access to the right apis. They couldn’t get permission from the government to do this. It took a tremendous amount of bureaucracy to get that permission to get the right licenses, so you could access the data and all of this, so people were trying their hardest to work on better solutions, and instead bureaucracy came in and stopped it so that’s the story At the end of the day, so we end up with this terrible solution and we could have had something much better and that’s uh.

What do you think?

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