Florida governor Ron de Santis to block vaccine passports backed by Biden admin

‘You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean give me a break’

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 30 March 2021 20:52
Florida governor Ron de Santis to block vaccine passports
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The governor of Florida said he will take executive action banning the use of vaccine passports requiring proof of Covid immunity for people to "participate in normal society".

Republican Ron DeSantis said he would take emergency action this week and called on the GOP-controlled state legislature to draft a bill making their use illegal in Florida.

His comments come as civil liberty organisations raise the alarm over the digital tracking apps being tested by states like New York, and the Biden administration plans on issuing guidance for private companies to create vaccine certifications.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society,” Mr DeSantis said.

"You want to go to a movie theatre. Should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. So, we're not supportive of that."

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Mr De Santis said individual freedoms and liberties could be infringed, while there were privacy implications of giving personal medical data to private companies.

"It's like ok you're gonna do this and what, give all this information to some big corporation?” he said. “You want the fox to guard the henhouse? I mean give me a break.”

The acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt, said during a White House Covid-19 briefing Monday said the government would naturally be involved in vaccine passports that will hit all parts of society.

He said while it wasn't the role of the government to create the passports or control the data, they would provide guidance for the private sector on the criteria needed for the credentials.

One of Joe Biden's first actions as president in January was an executive order directing federal agencies on the feasibility of linking Covid-19 vaccination to electronic versions of the International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

"Any immunity passport system endangers privacy rights by creating a new surveillance infrastructure to collect health data," said the American Civil Liberties Union in a 2020 statement, which the organisation plans on updating later this week.

"Immunity passports incentivise vulnerable people to contract the disease, and raise the prospect of another hierarchical system, separating us into two categories – those with Covid-19 immunity, who are given preferential access to employment, housing, or public accommodations – and those without. "

Sam Grant, Head of Policy and Campaigns at UK organisation Liberty, said vaccine passports further marginalise those already most at risk.

“This has wider implications too because any form of immunity passport could pave the way for a full ID system – an idea which has repeatedly been rejected as incompatible with building a rights-respecting society," he said in a statement.

“As there is no clear evidence vaccines prevent the spread of the virus, this move feels like an opportunistic detour rather than a serious route out of the pandemic."

Asked at the White House daily briefing whether the president supported business requiring vaccine passports, press secretary Jen Psaki said they were currently reviewing questions around vaccine verification.

"A determination or development of a vaccine passport, or whatever you want to call it, will be driven by the private sector. Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis," Ms Psaki said.

"So we’ll leverage our resources to ensure that all vaccination credential systems meet key standards, whether that’s universal accessibility, affordability, availability – both digitally and on paper."

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