Test the Excelsior Pass in New York


So how does it feel to use it?

In order to participate in my first comedy show in Brooklyn Union Hall in years, I signed up for the Excelsior Pass. Spoiler: Not going well.

Downloading the application to my iPhone is very easy. But like many users, when I tried to register on the website, I received an error message.A lot of people already Unable to Use the pass because it cannot verify their vaccination status. The system works by using state immunization records, but database errors can cause problems, especially if there are data entry errors at the vaccine site. A misspelled name or wrong date of birth may mean that the Excelsior system cannot extract your records. So when the pass could not verify my identity, I followed the advice on the error page and pulled out my paper vaccination card to make sure I entered the vaccination location information correctly. After three attempts, I re-entered the same information each time and it worked.

After three attempts, I re-entered the same information each time and it worked.

limited use

Although I discovered the purpose of the pass, it is basically limited to sports events, gyms and other high-end leisure venues-which means that the user base is limited.For the New York working class who lost their low-paying jobs due to rising debts and continue to lose their jobs, attending an expensive concert or basketball game is a good choice Go out of arrival.

This raises concerns about whether this is a wise use of resources.So far, the state has spent US$2.5 million on the system. According to a contract with IBM, which developed the platform, it can cost If driver’s license information, proof of age, and other data may be added to the pass, then anywhere from $10 to $17 million will be needed in the next three years.

“This passport project feels like a continuation of all the policies of the state government and Governor Cuomo around the pandemic,” said Sumatey Kumar, campaign organizer of Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition of organizations fighting for tenants. “They just want to normalize the lives of people with a lot of disposable income.”

If passes do become more widely used—for example, as a requirement to enter a workplace or basic store—it will raise questions about privacy.

Experts question safety

Users must enter their name, date of birth, zip code, and phone number to verify their vaccination status or covid-19 test results.The New York State website tells users that Excelsior data is safe and reliable, and Privacy Policy Said it does not store information sent through the app, nor does it use location services to track people’s location. IBM Guarantee Users, their data is confidential, and safe use Blockchain And encryption technology.

But experts claim that the privacy policy is seriously inadequate.Albert Kahn, Executive Director Stop technical supervision project (STOP) opposed the local and state surveillance in New York, pointing out that the company uses a separate application to scan the pass; when he tested it, he found that the user’s location might be tracked by these scanners. Therefore, the comedy club I go to may record my visits there—and any bars I go to that require proof of vaccination. Neither New York State nor IBM responded to requests to clarify whether scan information can be collected or tracked.

Kahn said the lack of transparency is a problem. “Compared to the weather app on my phone, I have less information about how Excelsior Pass data is used,” he said. Since the pass is not open source, a third party or expert cannot easily evaluate its privacy statement.

“If IBM’s proprietary health data standards become popular, they can make a lot of money… Transparency may threaten their entire business plan.”

Albert Kahn, stop

But there is little incentive to become more transparent.When developing Excelsior, IBM used the existing Digital Health Pass, It can sell the system in a customized form to customers, from state governments to private companies seeking to reopen offices.

“If IBM’s proprietary health data standards become popular, they can make a lot of money,” Kahn said. “Transparency threatens their entire business plan.”

If passes are used more widely, privacy and security issues will become more urgent. The pass is designed to build trust and make people feel at ease in the crowd, but for many people, it evokes people’s fear of how it will be used against them.

Vulnerable to surveillance

Many groups have real and well-founded concerns about tracking and government surveillance. Historical precedents show that the use of such technologies, even if initially restricted, tends to spread, especially with destructive results for black and brown communities. E.g, Anti-terrorism legislation In the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, the bill expanded surveillance, detention, and deportation of undocumented Muslims and South Asian immigrants.

The Digital Civil Liberties Organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in Oppose To the vaccine passport. EFF Engineering Director Alexis Hancock (Alexis Hancock) said: “In most cases, these applications are a waste of time and money.” “Governments really need to consider the resources they have and allocate them. Let the public go to a better place after the pandemic, instead of putting people in a situation of more paranoia and privacy issues.”

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