Albany, New York, March 29, 2021: .New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a “vaccine passport” that New Yorkers can use to prove vaccination or history of a negative COVID-19 test. The program, called the “Excelsior Pass,” is an app that is being called “not mandatory” but is being forced upon venues who wish to fully reopen. The Biden Administration is said to be considering a similar program for the entire nation.
Privacy experts have decried this move. IBM, who developed the Excelsior smartphone app used to do the tracing, insists user data will be kept confidential, as it will use blockchain technology to record and transmit data. However, the terms of service accompanying the app do not explicitly state how the data is tracked or safeguarded, even less so than standard smartphone applications. That isn’t the only issue, according to Cody Anderson, chair of the Libertarian Party of New York.
“The Excelsior Pass is not benign,” Anderson stated. “Not only does the Excelsior app entrust the government with HIPAA-privileged health information, it creates a surveillance state by recording protected health information, tracking individual locations and correlating gatherings in real-time. It requires businesses like concert and sports venues to either join the surveillance regime, or remain closed. That’s not optional participation – that’s force – and will only worsen the economic and psychological damage already inflicted upon New York State by Governor Cuomo.
“Furthermore, requiring use of the Excelsior app sends the signal that compliant behavior will be rewarded with a restaurant meal, concert or sporting event. It creates a class structure where vaccinated individuals carrying smartphones are more deserving and of a higher caste than those who have legitimately chosen not to vaccinate or carry a mobile device. We stand opposed to this state-sanctioned sorting ceremony.
“The consequences for our natural and constitutional rights to privacy, due process, and peaceful assembly are dire. Do not install this app.”
A protest against the Excelsior Pass is planned for Wednesday, March 31st at 12 noon, at the state Capitol in Albany. You can find details about that event at fb.me/e/NQroS51h.
Public Engagement Director
Libertarian Party of New York