On March 26, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state had partnered with IBM to launch Excelsior Pass, a digital health pass billed by state officials as part of New York’s “safe reopening” plan.
The pass is designed to provide a “free, fast and secure” way for New Yorkers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to gain entry to major sporting events, theatre and arts performances, concert halls and wedding venues.
How does Excelsior Pass work?
Excelsior Pass is a free app that can be downloaded on phones. It allows users to display a QR code verifying either proof of COVID vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test result. Venues use a companion app to scan the user’s QR code which then generates either a green checkmark or a red X, depending on vaccination status or COVID test result. Users have to show a photo ID with their name and birth date to verify the pass belongs to them.
New Yorkers have the option to show alternate proof of vaccination or test results, for example, a different mobile application or paper form, to gain entrance to the business or venue. Upon entrance, users are still required to maintain social distancing, abide by mask guidelines and use proper hand hygiene. Initially designed to allow entry to major venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York City, Times Union Center in Albany and other large venues for weddings, concerts and special events, the pass was later expanded for use at smaller arts, entertainment and event venues throughout the state.
IBM has history of collecting personal data
This isn’t the first time IBM’s technology has played a key role in identifying and segregating people based on their health information. The New York Times best-selling book by Edwin Black, “IBM and the Holocaust,” details the chilling role IBM’s past president, Thomas J. Watson, played while serving the Third Reich for 12 years.