As the multi-sector, global response to the coronavirus tightens the noose around civil liberties, CommonPass stands out as one of the most appalling and dangerous attacks on basic human rights in the name of public health.
Imagine standing at a TSA security checkpoint on your way home for the holidays. You’re getting ready to go through the awkward travel procedures instituted almost immediately after 9/11 when the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) was created and air travel in the United States morphed into a search and seizure operation with the implied possibility of your detention and interrogation.
The initial outrage such expressions of implicit state violence caused early on eventually gave way to begrudging acceptance. But now, a new layer of “security,” that could restrict freedom of movement even further, is being rolled out at several ports of entry in partnership with health technology industry leaders, academic institutions, and government health entities in more than three dozen countries.
A new digital certificate called CommonPass, designed to serve as a clearance mechanism for passengers based on a health diagnosis underwent its first transatlantic test on October 21 under the watchful eye of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Heathrow Airport in London. There, a group of select participants embarked on United flight 15 to Newark, New Jersey after being screened and tested for COVID-19 at the point of departure in a largely ceremonial exercise that included initiative co-founders, Paul Meyer and Bradley Perkins.
The app’s first trial run took place with much less media fanfare last month on a Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Hong Kong to Singapore and marked the beginning of the CommonPass pilot project launched by The Commons Project non-profit organization in-tandem with the World Economic Forum.