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By Tom Bawden
Science & Environment Correspondent
Millions of Britons could have to use several different Covid vaccine passports at once, according to the head of a Government-backed trial.
It means families could be forced to use a variety of apps or paper alternatives depending on the situation, from travel and cultural events to the workplace.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans for around a dozen “pilot” Covid Status Certification schemes at large events such as the FA Cup final, the League Cup final, the World Snooker Championships and, potentially, the Brit Awards.
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These pilots would follow a major Government-backed trial that is already up and running, operated by the London-based biometrics and cyber security firms iProov, which provides facial verification technology to the Home Office and the NHS, and Mvine.
According to iProov head Andrew Bud, the trial indicates that any “Covid status credential” programme in the UK is likely to require multiple different schemes, with many people potentially using a variety of alternatives in different situations.
“I think we may see different schemes for different sectors, focussing on different applications and situations,” he told i.
“The way the ‘status certification’ information flows in in the air transport environment – which is very identity rich – is actually completely different from the way it happens, say, in a care home, where compliance requirements are high. And this is different again to the way it flows in a pub, where people are never carrying any ID and wish to stay anonymous,” Mr Bud said.
Asked if he envisages people carrying a number of passports, or whether it’s more likely that each person selects one from a range of passport options, Mr Bud replied: “I don’t think anyone knows”.
In part, the prospect of multiple passports comes from the complexities posed by GDPR regulations on the collection and processing of personal information.
“One of the things we’ve learned is that the legal aspects are really very complicated,” he said.
“The complexity of compliance with UK GDPR in a range of different applications, in particular, is a really serious issue. This is one of the areas where the Government must intervene in order to clarify some ambiguities, and uncertainties and difficulties that could otherwise sink whole classes of Covid status certification schemes.”
The return of workers to offices could also spawn a huge class of Covid passports in themselves, according to Mr Bud.
“In many cases, organisations are undoubtedly going to have legal obligations in relation to check peoples’ Covid status.
“When we bring our people back into the office I suspect we will have no choice but to check their Covid status for health and safety purposes. I don’t know but I suspect that’s something we’re going to hear about from the Government,” he said.
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