On March 26, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state had partnered with IBM to launch Excelsior Pass, a digital health pass billed by state officials as part of New York’s “safe reopening” plan.
The pass is designed to provide a “free, fast and secure” way for New Yorkers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to gain entry to major sporting events, theatre and arts performances, concert halls and wedding venues.
How does Excelsior Pass work?
Excelsior Pass is a free app that can be downloaded on phones. It allows users to display a QR code verifying either proof of COVID vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test result.
Venues use a companion app to scan the user’s QR code which then generates either a green checkmark or a red X, depending on vaccination status or COVID test result. Users have to show a photo ID with their name and birth date to verify the pass belongs to them.
New Yorkers have the option to show alternate proof of vaccination or test results, for example, a different mobile application or paper form, to gain entrance to the business or venue. Upon entrance, users are still required to maintain social distancing, abide by mask guidelines and use proper hand hygiene.
Initially designed to allow entry to major venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York City, Times Union Center in Albany and other large venues for weddings, concerts and special events, the pass was later expanded for use at smaller arts, entertainment and event venues throughout the state.
IBM has history of collecting personal data
This isn’t the first time IBM’s technology has played a key role in identifying and segregating people based on their health information.
The New York Times best-selling book by Edwin Black, “IBM and the Holocaust,” details the chilling role IBM’s past president, Thomas J. Watson, played while serving the Third Reich for 12 years.
According to Black, IBM was intimately involved in providing the punch cards and tabulating machines that helped Adolf Hitler carry out his ultimate plan. While this is not a well-known aspect of IBM’s history, the company has never denied any of the facts outlined in Black’s book. The book details evidence based on more than 20,000 documents from seven countries, including internal IBM correspondence, memos from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Justice, and from concentration camps.
Black’s book chronicles how IBM played a pivotal role in the Holocaust, in not only the identification and tabulation of Jews, but also their expulsion from society, including the confiscation of their property, ghettoization, deportation and ultimately their extermination.
How will IBM’s role differ this time?
IBM used its Digital Health Pass technology, which is part of the tech company’s Watson Works, to develop the Excelsior Pass. The pass is built on IBM’s own blockchain technology, allowing organizations and businesses to verify health credentials of individuals, employees, customers and other end users based on predetermined criteria specified by an organization, state or business.
IBM claims privacy is central and the data is secured and verifiable. The company also says the encrypted information is protected on the user’s digital wallet, and the user has “complete control” over how and with whom they share the information.
But how is sharing personal health data with Big Tech considered private? If someone is refused entrance to the workplace, a business or venue based on the Excelsior Pass, the person’s status would become known to colleagues at work, or strangers nearby at a social venue.
And what will IBM do with this data? How do we know IBM won’t turn over the data to government officials or sell it to other entities?
Data security concerns, human rights infringement
Requiring proof of a vaccine or a negative test result is a violation of fundamental human rights and promotes segregation based on unproven and experimental medical interventions. Let’s evaluate a few key factors:
- The COVID vaccine is an experimental treatment that at this time has only Emergency Use Authorization. COVID vaccines have yet to obtain-licensing and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is illegal for any government to mandate or coerce the public to take an experimental medical intervention that is liability-free and lacks long-term safety studies. This form of coercion to gain entrance to a business or venue violates the tenants of informed consent.
- The COVID vaccine has yet to prove in any clinical trials that it can stop person-to-person transmission. Using the Excelsior Pass to show proof of having the vaccine to enter a public venue, business or workspace is not proof of lower risk of transmission to others.
- PCR tests have been proven to have high rates of false positives. A study conducted in April 2020, showed when PCR tests have a cycle threshold around 33 they lead to false positives 80% of the time. PCR tests cycled above 34 can reach 100% false positives. Yet the FDA was recommending PCR tests cycled around 40 times. Excelsior Pass will grant access to businesses and venues based on proof of negative test results, however the methodology is inaccurate and based upon a faulty and broken system of testing.
- While Cuomo touts the Excelsior Pass as a way to return to normal, the pass comes with the same restrictions that have been in place this entire time. Per the NYS guidelines, Excelsior pass holders are still required to wear facial coverings and social distance.
Once Excelsior Pass rolls out, it will likely expand to include more businesses throughout New York and could expand to more states. Will New Yorkers be forced to show their Excelsior Pass to shop at their local groceries stores? Will New York follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles by mandating the COVID vaccine and use of a tracking app to attend school?
This appears to be a quid pro quo among Big Tech, Big Pharma and government that likely will lead to the commercialization of personal health data — and it could easily expand to other vaccine requirements in the future.
Many people are not aware of the Healthy People 2030 agenda, which ultimately will include an aggressive adult vaccine catch-up schedule. It’s easy to see how state government officials and businesses could easily add other vaccines to the Excelsior Pass for children and adults as necessary criteria for entry. This could lead to a systematic threat to our right to travel freely and could interfere with the ability to earn a living and conduct commerce.