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ETHICAL CONCERNS REMAIN ON THE USE OF DIGITAL VACCINE PASSPORT FOR TRAVEL

The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination program around the world will likely ease the restrictions on domestic and international travel. As of the 25th of February 2021, the total number of people who have been vaccinated in Indonesia is more than 1.000.000 people and will keep increasing (Kompas.comKemenkes: 1.363.138 Orang di Indonesia Telah Disuntik Vaksin COVID-19). This situation may significantly impact the travel industry since many people may feel it is safe to travel again. Of course, one of the important aspects of ensuring safe travel post-COVID is how then the Government can distinguish between people who have been vaccinated versus those who have not. It is easier said than done since authorities that deploy vaccination are varied country by country, and the type of vaccines may also be varied depending on where you lived.

Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have signed an agreement which allows their citizens with vaccination certificates to move freely between those three countries as part of normalizing tourism during the post-COVID-19 pandemic (The Guardian – Post-Covid Tourism Hooes Buoyed by Deal Between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, 15 February 2021). Furthermore, Israeli citizens who can prove that they have been vaccinated by EU-approved COVID-19 vaccines, will not be required to undergo PCR tests nor self-isolation upon arrival in either Greece or Cyprus. This is a major breakthrough that will significantly impact the travel industry as a whole.

On the other hand, Indonesia, a country that relies heavily on tourism, should also adopt digital vaccine passports rather than a printed-out vaccine certificate. The deployment of digital vaccines passport is more important than ever because a large-scale adoption of digital vaccine passports will reduce a paper-based certificate and improve the level of trust of authorities that rely on vaccine certificates for travel and other purposes. The problem with the printed-out vaccine certificate is how we can assure whether the card is legitimate (specifically for authorities in different countries)?

The use of a digital vaccine passport will be far more effective than the printed-out vaccine certificate, especially when it comes to international travel. A worldwide standard on digital vaccine passports can increase the level of trust of every authority across multiple jurisdictions that rely on the digital vaccine passport for inbound/outbound travel. Of course, implementing this would need cooperation between all countries, and it is not without flaws. Ethical concerns remain, specifically when it comes to individual privacy.

Deploying digital vaccine passports will inter-related with a bulk collection amount of data, specifically medical and biometric data. The biggest concern is how the airport operator, airlines, and the government stored the data and how it will be shared among different authorities across multiple jurisdictions. It is crucial because the medical and biometric data are tied back to our identities. Law No. 71 of 2019 on System and Electronic Transaction allows data collection under the pretext of public interest. However, unlike other countries with strong privacy laws, Law No. 71 of 2019 does not clearly explain the meaning of the public interest and does not contain any public interest assessment provision, which may result in the government, airport operators, and airlines not having a high standard of privacy in processing medical and biometric data.

The government, airport operators, and airlines are expected to have a strong privacy policy and provide transparency regarding the processing of medical and biometric data from digital vaccine passports. Further, a "privacy by default" infrastructure is required by the government, airport operators, and airlines since it is tied with basic fundamental rights such as freedom of movement and peaceful assembly. Otherwise, it would be problematic for Indonesia in adopting digital vaccine passports because each country would not sacrifice its citizens' medical and biometric data to other countries that did not have a strong privacy law.