Privacy-first medical apps protect civil liberties and freedom of movement for the majority

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Big Brother Watch campaign based on false assumptions, according to Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences

The debate around Covid vaccine passports and individual freedoms hit the headlines again this week, with MPs on both sides of the House of Commons set to defy the government’s latest plans to introduce Covid jab passports over civil liberties concerns. Numerous MPs have already signed the Big Brother Watch declaration against “Covid status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs” in recent months. And The Guardian reports that more MPs said “they were unlikely to back such a move, especially if it remained a vaccine-only pass that did not recognise a negative test result or evidence of antibodies.”

Safety and freedom of movement for the majority

“Big Brother Watch puts forward a compelling argument based around civil liberties, but some of the assumptions they make are simply incorrect,” says Mark Shaw, CEO of Tento Applied Sciences. “For example, the BBW campaign claims that all Covid passes are discriminatory, counterproductive and would lead to British citizens having to share personal health information with anyone in authority, from bouncers to bosses. However, there are already privacy-first digital wallets that give individuals the freedom to store and share anonymised medical documents, OHS certificates, work credentials and other types of documentation quickly, simply, and securely.

“I wholeheartedly agree that individuals should not be required to share their own personal health information with unknown third parties or with anyone in authority who demands it. But I strongly disagree with the suggestion that ‘events and businesses are either safe to open for everyone, or no one’. It creates a false dichotomy that either everyone is safe, or nobody is safe. If employers or event organisers don’t take action to properly manage workplace or venue safety, then they risk curtailing the safety and freedom of movement for the majority. This is why, for example, we are already working closely with the construction, film/TV production  and airline industries to develop secure and privacy-first digital tools that enable freedom of travel, freedom of access, and freedom to work for all. We create a trust chain between the relevant stakeholders.

“The vital point to make is this: innovations in health technology must ensure self-sovereign identity. This means the data held about an individual is owned by the individual and stored on their device. And, in the case of medical data, that data can be delivered from healthcare professionals to the device in an encrypted format, and the user chooses how they share their information.”

Individuals need to take control of their own data

“The BBW campaign argument of ‘individual freedoms versus those in authority’ is misplaced. Individuals now have the freedom to take control of their own health data. They have the freedom to choose how, why and with whom they share their vaccination status (or other personal health information), confidentially and anonymously. Individuals shouldn’t need to go into their medical records every time they are required to prove they have been vaccinated or tested. They need something they can show that is verified and that they can use. Something that is secure, something that only that individual has access to and that they can use as they see fit. And when they choose to share that proof, to access an event or a business, they need to be sure that their data is fully anonymised, not pseudonymised* or giving away any personally identifiable information.

“This is why privacy-first medical apps such as the Tento Wallet use cryptographic hashing and anonymous ID to ensure that information remains private and secure. Users have full control and can choose to share their vaccination status or medical cert without having to share any personally identifiable information. They do this at the tap of a screen, sharing an anonymised, one-time, temporary QR code that expires after several seconds.

“Digitising this process and giving individuals the freedom to access their vaccination and other health or personal data simply and securely is the first step to maintaining the civil liberties and freedom of movement for the majority.”

For further information, go to the Tento Applied Sciences website at www.tentoas.com  

*”Where data has been anonymised, the original information should be securely deleted to prevent any reversing of the ‘anonymisation’ process. In most cases, if this deletion does not take place then the data is classified as ‘pseudonymised’ rather than ‘anonymised’, and is still considered personal data.” https://www.dataprotection.ie/en/dpc-guidance/anonymisation-pseudonymisation 

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