It takes less than 15 minutes to obtain fake credentials through New York’s recently launched vaccine passport program, according to privacy advocate Albert Fox Cahn.
Cahn, the executive director of the nonprofit group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, managed to obtain someone else’s credentials on New York’s Excelsior Pass using nothing more than the person’s Twitter posts and other publicly available information, The Washington Post reported.
The whole process took Cahn about 11 minutes, according to The Post.
The Excelsior Pass, launched in early April, is the nation’s first state-sponsored COVID-19 vaccine passport program. The program enables private venues such as concert halls and arenas to scan a QR code on New Yorkers’ phones to verify their vaccine status prior to granting entry.
The only information New Yorkers need to provide to register in the program is their name, date of birth, zip code and their vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the Post, however, all of that information can be found on a CDC vaccination card.
And with “vaccine card selfies” being a growing trend on social media, that gives ample opportunity for New Yorkers to obtain a fake Excelsior Pass.
I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine! To those saying people shouldn’t post their vaccine cards because of identity theft, please enjoy this redacted photo of my vaccine card. pic.twitter.com/2i8Z0jaNyX
— Sam Butler (@samdcbu) April 8, 2021
Did I pull into a parking space just to take a timed selfie with my vaccine card and vaccine donut? Absolutely. pic.twitter.com/UKahuyar1v
— maura???? (@maurahl99) April 2, 2021
New York says businesses participating in the Excelsior Pass program are supposed to check people’s photo IDs to combat fraud. But the Post noted that requiring businesses to check photo IDs could introduce new social barriers for individuals without identification, or make people unwilling to participate in the program altogether.
“To be clear, Excelsior Pass is a voluntary system that creates a digital copy of a preexisting paper record — it is not a standalone identification document,” Empire State Development spokeswoman Kristin Devoe told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The entire system was created with privacy and security in mind, however, those who post personal information online such as their CDC card, risk having someone use their information to create a false document, which is why every Excelsior Pass has to be cross-referenced with photo ID when you enter a venue.”
Devoe did not respond when asked if there are any policies in place to verify that businesses are checking photo ID with every Excelsior Pass.
Proponents of vaccine passports say it would enable the economy to reopen faster, but opponents argue such programs are a violation of privacy.
The White House shot down rumors on Tuesday that President Joe Biden was planning to implement a national vaccine passport program.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron Desantis issued an executive order on April 2 prohibiting any businesses in the state from requiring individuals to present proof of vaccine prior to entry.
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