Like COVID itself, the idea of vaccine passports just won’t seem to go away.
It subsides for a while, suppressed by the realisation of what it would mean: that a small proportion of the population, concentrated in some ethnic groups, would be constantly discriminated against.
But then it creeps back. Confirming that the lifting of many legal restrictions would be lifted next Monday, the Prime Minister encouraged nightclubs and other large venues to insist on vaccine certification “as a matter of social responsibility”.
Don’t think it will end there – it transpires that ministers have been discussing making vaccine passports a legal requirement at such venues.
And once they have become established at nightclubs and concert halls, just wait until they become legally-required at all hospitality venues: pubs, restaurants, hotels – just as it seems they will such establishments in France and Ireland.
Vaccine passports are only a temporary measure, we will be told – just to protect us during the pandemic.
But you can bet that they will soon morph into a smartphone-based ID card which we are expected to carry wherever we go – at least if we want access to any commercial premises or public building.
There are too many vested interests to allow the idea to die a death with the pandemic.
There are huge fortunes to be made for the tech industry if it can persuade governments and commercial organisations to force on us electronic ID cards which can then be used to collect, store and access our personal data.
“Welcome to the shop, madam, but we just need to check your creditworthiness first, so if you can please check in with your phone here”; “yes, the swimming pool is open but in order to ensure everyone’s safety we’ll need you to check you against the sex offenders’ register”; “your seats are in aisle 10, sir, but first we’ll just need to check that you haven’t been censured for anything you have said on social media.”
There will be enthusiastic support for many potential uses of an electronic ID cards, and only in time will the oppressiveness of an electronic ID card system creep up on us.
And of course, tapping our phones against a reader will be so easy that it will hardly register as an inconvenience – until, that is, we personally get ‘pinged’ on the grounds that the venue has taken a dislike to some aspect of our character or history.
There is a model for what will be coming our way if we do not resist vaccination passports and electronic ID cards: China’s social credit system, which blacklists people for numerous antisocial offences, from crossing the street on a red light to failing to sort their recycling, and uses the information to deny them the right, for example, to buy rail and airline tickets.
The adoption of lockdowns has shown just how pernicious is the influence of authoritarian China on the West.
No-one should fool themselves that Britain and other ‘freedom-loving’ western societies have some sort of cultural defence against over-bearing surveillance. We don’t.
A combination of authoritarian-minded government ministers, greed on the part of big tech and apathy on the part of many citizens will ensure that vaccination passports quickly evolve into a permanent surveillance infrastructure.
What purpose do vaccination passports serve in any case?
Vaccination rates among the upper age groups are already up above 95 percent. Those who are vaccinated will be at little extra risk from the odd unvaccinated individual they encounter in a bar or some other venue – it is mostly the unvaccinated people who will be at risk to each other.
Do we really need to persecute those who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to be vaccinated? They are not all anti-vaxxers.
According to an ONS survey, only nine percent of those who have rejected the vaccine have an opposition to vaccines in general, and three percent of them said they has been advised by their own doctors not to be vaccinated.
Vaccination is working in reducing COVID to an endemic disease which causes a manageable number of hospitalisations and few deaths.
There is no need to try to make effectively compulsory by insisting on vaccination passports that will make life a misery for those who, for whatever reason, have not been jabbed.
Source: Rosss Clark – The Telegraph