A global standard for digital health certificates

The 17th of March is the date given by the European Commission to give the next step regarding the “Digital Green Pass”, meaning the digital certificate for Covid-19 vaccination and tests. The Commission has been quite ambiguous when giving details, and even though some media channels have reported that this month an enforceable model of the “green pass” will be made public, apparently the only thing presented on the 17th will be a legislative proposal, fundamental for these certificates to become a reality. 

As the Blockchain Center of Catalonia (CBCat), we celebrate the European Union’s initiative regarding these digital certificates, which will allow for a certain economic and touristic reopening, inside the member countries. Even though the EU has still not publically announced any more details about the type of digital certificate they are considering, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has stated through her social media that it will “respect data protection, security and privacy”. The European Union aims to have these certificates ready by summer; however, as published in Euronews, the draft law will be followed by, at least, three months of technical work, to prepare the system, which will mean that the certificates will be ready no sooner than July. Some of the Union’s countries, such as Denmark and Greece, have already announced that, if the common project is delayed, they will go ahead and continue to develop said certificates on their own. 

We encounter here a potential problem: if every country develops its own system without standard criteria, we could find that the different models are not compatible with one another. The ideal scenario would be, therefore, to create a standard, not European, but global. Because the European “Digital Green Pass” sounds great, but what about American, Chinese or Russian tourists who want to enter the EU? And what if it is us, EU members, who want to cross the border? Isn’t it just common sense that, in a pandemic that affects the whole world, we all work together in a global solution?

Here is where the Good Health Pass Collaborative, comes in. The Good Health Pass is an open, inclusive, cross-sector initiative, bringing together leading companies and organizations from the technology, health, and travel sectors. Their aim is to create a blueprint for interoperable digital health pass systems and building a safe path to restore international travel and restart the global economy. According to Dakota Gruener, ID2020 Executive Director: “Fragmentation is a risk we simply cannot ignore. To be valuable to users, credentials need to accepted at check-in, upon arrival by border control agencies, and more. We can get there – even with multiple systems – as long as solutions adhere to open standards and participate in a common governance framework. But without these, fragmentation is inevitable, and travellers – and the economy – will continue to suffer needlessly as a result.”

The CBCat shares Good Health Pass’s opinion; that is, in fact, the reason that we are one of the project’s partners, together with the International Chamber of Commerce, and other pioneer companies. 

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