back to article Google to bake COVID-19 vaccine passport support into Android with Passes API update

Android will soon have the ability to store and display proof of Covid-19 vaccination, Google has said. The ad search giant has confirmed that an update to its Passes API will allow authorised public health bodies and medical organisations to create a digital vaccination record, which can then be stored on a user’s smartphone …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Passport madness

    Unneeded and a total waste of time and money !

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Passport madness

      Although many bristle at the thought of vaccine passports, regarding them as inherently coercive, they look set to become an inevitable part of our post-COVID-19 life.

      NOT "inevitable" if we RESIST it HARD ENOUGH. Remember the MAGNA CHARTA? And, other 'resistance' kinds of things? Like the Declaration of Independence for the U.S.? Or resisting Nazi occupation forces during WW2 in France? Yeah a perfect thing to post about on 5-july. Basically, it is NOT inevitable unless we the people ALLOW it to happen. Just sayin'.

      And this is ALSO a continuation of why I don't plan on carrying a smart phone around with me, EVAR. A slab computer to read my e-mail (and stuff like that) is ok as long as I secure the connection properly, when using someone else's wifi (like at a customer site). But NO location tracking, contact tracing, or anything even REMOTELY similar, EVAR. I *RESIST*.

      (I own a dumb phone. it works. as a phone. For emergency use only. It's nearly always OFF. And that's all I want/need)

      Google conforms too much to the desires of the Communist government in China. The *FREE* world does *NOT* need to "go there".

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    What's the need

    We already have an App for that, so what's the point, this is just Google searching to gain your medical data.....

    This is evil, from the evil company run by the evil people.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What's the need

      Not really, they would probably just be providing keys for signing. But it does enshrine their role as gatekeeper and I'm not sure if that should ever be trusted to a private company.

    2. RyokuMas

      Re: What's the need

      Well, given they already got rumbled for trying to do just that illegally, it's hardly surprising they'd take another stab at it...

      Don't forget to opt-out of the great NHS data sale, people!

  3. simonb_london

    Just what we always wanted. Not.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Civil liberties arguments aside, the real problem is handing yet more power over to the gatekeepers. Personally, I do not want to have to whip out my phone every time I cross a border, there is far too much other stuff on it that is no one else's concern.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Irish government is considering requiring proof of vaccination to sit in doors at a pub or restaurant"

        Looks like you will even need it just to sit on the doorstep!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do we want?

    An electronic COVID passport.

    that runs on a standalone non-connected device

    that doesn't phone home to Google or Microsoft

    that doesn't phone home to the Government or their commercial partners

    that doesn't contain anything else regarding your social security, health, credit ratings or opinions about the police or the Government,

    and that doesn't contain any information other than your COVID status.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What do we want?

      If it's standalone, why should it be electronic?

      The problem with the forged certificates is that they're based on something that was never designed not to be forged. But it would be easy enough to the use technology of id cards, drivers licences, passports, etc. for a new document that would be sufficiently difficult to forge to eliminate most forgeries.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: What do we want?

      Screw "electronic". If people must carry papers, let them be papers.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: What do we want?

        If people must carry papers, let them be papers.

        You made me think of the movie "The Great Escape"

        (someone in a black trenchcoat always asking to see your papers)

    3. spold Silver badge

      Re: What do we want?

      ...would you like your RFID chip in your neck or in your arse? :-)

  5. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Yea, I’d trust Google with this

    Ah!! Got you :-)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Idiocracy, by mandate

    So here's the new normal - you need government approval to go about your life, and your approval will be held on a smartphone. As such, you will need to swallow your distaste for the unstoppable, global monstrosity that Google has become, and continue buying a phone every few years (and at huge environmental cost, at both ends of the phone's lifecycle). As it is a device designed to hook you on shallow content, you will sit there and stare at it all day, turning you into an obedient, isolated consumer.

    Yet anyone who complains about the new normal is a conspiracy theorist.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Idiocracy, by mandate

      Yet anyone who complains about the new normal is a conspiracy theorist.

      To be fair a lot of them are conspiracy nutters claiming Billy Gates is putting 5G in vaccines as implants, etc, etc.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Idiocracy, by mandate

        "To be fair a lot of them are conspiracy nutters claiming Billy Gates is putting 5G in vaccines as implants, etc, etc."

        Nope, only a tiny, tiny minority are nutters but the media love to exaggerate everything because it favours extra likes...

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Idiocracy, by mandate

      However, your point about the rise of Idiocracy is quite right.

      The UK has had a decent vaccine roll out, perhaps the only thing they have not utterly coked up, and soon most will be vaccinated (or at least have been offered it). At that point the need for any passport is gone, and in the short window of many to near-all being done it is not worth the discriminatory nature or the effort for what should be a couple of months.

      Ah, but is this a stick/carrot to get anti-vaxxers to change? Who knows. Personally I would wait and if they start dying off due to stupidity then it is Darwin 1, YouTube 0

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm OK with a vaccine passport, but not with Google having access to it

    I live near Brussels airport, and the courts recently fined the first moron who tried to use a forged Covid test a couple of thousand Euros and sent him to jail for a few months to boot to rethink his life's choice and his willingness to risk the health of others. Not that they have only just started checking, but it took this long to work its way through the legal system - the reality is that they still catch between 500 and 1000 people a month trying the same. I hear the same from The Netherlands where Amstedam's Schiphol also has to cope with such people.

    Belgium has a functional centralised health system with decent privacy controls, and their vaccine passport merely picks up an offline copy of your vaccination record - a record you can also download for print (which is what I already did given that most phones give Murphy's Law waaay too much opportunity re. battery life). I'm OK with this platform as it doesn't seek to milk everyone's life for profit or hand all details to Google like some (*cough* UK *cough*), yet it allows for validating the vaccination records as genuine. Interestingly, there's presently a debate about airlines not being allowed access for reasons of privacy which I hope they'll be able to work out eventually.

    I would not trust Google in any way, shape or form not to try its level best to get their grubby paws on this data, even if they risk discovery later, having to say "oops", pay a pittance for a fine and then having to pretend to delete that information (for the slow learners, think "Streetview Wifi scanning") so no, there's no way in hell I will ever accept having to use a Google app for this. Thankfully we have at least some sane people left in government here (yes, I know it's a dying breed) that will stop this.

    Unless it's done by Microsoft. The fools love Microsoft. Sigh.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: I'm OK with a vaccine passport, but not with Google having access to it

      So, he gets to spend a few months in an isolation ward in a hospital? Or are they that stupid to put him in the general population in jail?

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One difficulty of linking a vaccine record with a device is establishing that the subject of the record and the holder of the device when it's checked are the same person.

    In my case the invitation for vaccination was sent to my mobile but from then on the chain simply runs on a set of assumptions. What's more SWMBO received her invitation from the local GP by POTS.

    The systems were designed to get as many people as possible trhough the vaccination centre doors as quickly as possible in some sort of sequence. They weren't designed to have this sort of add-on.

  9. Blitheringeejit

    Think of the not-children-for-a-long-time!

    My dad is 93, doesn't have a smartphone, and couldn't possibly get his head around learning to use one (we've tried). How is he supposed to prove his vaccination status? He has a card - does this plan make the card invalid?

    Reliance on any kind of smartphone or technology device for essential public functions and services, not to mention statutory obligations, is just plain discrimination - cost-cutting is not a good enough excuse. It's humiliating enough for him that I already have to do his driving licence renewal, and a lot of his banking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Think of the not-children-for-a-long-time!

      As far as I can tell from scanning the QR codes on my Belgian EU health passport (of course I scanned them, which geek wouldn't?) it's some 540 bytes worth of data, starting with a header that is the for the first and second injection (you get a cert per injection). Looking at the rest of the data I have a feeling that this thing holds a digital certificate of sorts which allows it to be traced back for validity checks, there certainly is enough data there for it.

      In Belgium I can also go into my health records and dump a PDF for printing so that I have a physical copy, interestingly enough the QR codes on that are different to the app variety. I could also make a call to a special centre that will print the thing and then send it to me by post, but I don't see why I should give them even more work when I can do it at home - it would, however, be an option for your dad if such exists in your country.

      Paper was AFAIK always part of the plan, if for no other reason than the millisecond lifespan of smart phone battery charges..

  10. Blackjack Silver badge

    Yeah because Google had never had data leaks before or has never randomly deleted users data and or files... this will go swell.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who, exactly, is getting vaccinated?

    Is it too cynical to wonder if vaccine passports are a way to keep people from countries without such a robust vaccination effort (typically lower-income, less pale) out of "our" countries?

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