Android phones are now able to save and display Covid-19 vaccination cards, essentially making them digital vaccine passports.
On Wednesday, Google announced that it’s updating its core Google Pay API to allow for the storage of vaccination cards.
Google has said that they are giving developers from government agencies and certain healthcare organisations the ability to circulate Covid vaccination cards directly to a user’s Google Pay app.
Typically, Google Pay stores items such as gift cards, loyalty cards, and tickets. However, in this case, the app will not be required for users to access their Covid card.
The ‘Covid card’ will show information about when a user was vaccinated and what vaccine they received. The feature also includes the ability to store test results, and it will initially be rolled out for US android users only.
Google said that all users have to do is head over to the respectable portal of their healthcare provider, find the vaccine card, and click “Save to phone.” The digital passport will then be available to access from the home screen.
However, on the Google support page, the tech company stated that when the Covid card is shown to third parties, Google will store information about how you use the vaccination card, the number of times you use it, and on what days.
The tech corporation has stated that they are not retaining a copy of the card, therefore anyone who needs to store their Covid card on multiple devices must download it individually on each phone from their healthcare provider or other organisation’s app.
In the US, local governments have been trialing digital passports for some time in the form of QR codes that verify a user’s vaccination status.
According to a support document, healthcare providers or organisations will be able to alert users to the ability to download their COVID Card via email, text, or through a mobile website or app.
Whilst Google has not provided any information about which healthcare providers are planning to adopt the new technology, the tech giant has said there are some significant partners and states who are interested, but it doesn’t have the permission to share those names at this time.
For the feature to work, a user’s android device is required to run Android 5 or later and it will need to be certified by Play Protect – a licensing program the ensures the device is running real Google apps.
It appears as though smartphones and devices are increasingly becoming tools for governments to continue keeping the masses fearful about Covid-19.
Currently, in the UK, vaccine passports are being used through the NHS app and have been trialed at large-scale events via the Events Research Programme, and are currently being used for overseas travel.
However, the government has failed to implement a domestic vaccine passport so far as they have been hit with significant backlash over the risks of creating a two-tier society and discriminating against those who do not wish to get vaccinated.
It seems with these big tech companies making it easier for ‘COVID Cards’ and other digital passports to be accessed and used, it’s only a matter of time before they are rolled out and implemented by the government.