The British government has been accused of aiming to covertly implement a national ID programme, after it partnered with a company that has advocated turning vaccine passports into a multi-purpose document.
Entrust, an IT firm that bills itself as a “global leader in identities, payments, and data protection,” was awarded a contract by the Department of Health and Social Care last month to work on the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine certificate system. The company was given £250,000 ($346,000) to provide cloud-computing services for the government’s Covid-status certification scheme, iNews reported. The contract is due to expire in March 2022, but the government has the option of extending it for an additional year.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock stated last month that proof of vaccination will be “necessary” for international travel, and in recent weeks reports have emerged claiming that the UK government may require the document of people attending sporting events or other large gatherings.
Judging from Entrust’s own stance on the issue, it’s possible that the government may have even more ambitious plans for the digital certificate. In a February blog post published on the company’s website, Jann Markey, Entrust’s product marketing director, argued that the advent of the vaccine passports could be used as an opportunity to roll out a national ID as part of “the infrastructure of the new normal.”
“Consider a national ID strategy: With the infrastructure and investment necessary to ensure a viable vaccine passport, why not redeploy this effort into a national citizen ID programme that can be used for multiple purposes including the secure delivery of government services, secure cross-border travel, and documentation of vaccination,” the blog, which explores vaccine passports in the “post-pandemic world,” states.
Notably, the US-based company has already helped Albania, Ghana and Malaysia deploy national ID systems, iNews said.
Entrust’s partnership with the UK government has already raised alarm among civil liberties organisations and lawmakers.