The Government has been accused of trying to bring in “national ID cards by the backdoor” after one firm awarded a vaccine passport contract – boasted about being able to “redeploy” them into a national identity programme.
Last month global IT firm ‘Entrust’ was awarded a contract by the Department of Health and Social Care to work on the government’s Covid vaccine certification system. The company describes itself as a “global leader in identities, payments, and data protection” and was awarded £250,000 to provide cloud computing software for the Covid-status certification scheme run by the government’s digital health unit.
A blog post on the company’s website said vaccine passports could be used to “consider a national ID strategy” and “become part of the infrastructure of the new normal”.
Entrust’s product marketing director Jann Markey wrote:
“With the infrastructure and investment necessary to ensure a viable vaccine passport, why not redeploy this effort into a national citizen ID programme that can be used for multiple purposes including the secure delivery of government services, secure cross-border travel, and documentation of vaccination.”
Ex-cabinet minister and member of the Covid Recovery Group David Davis described the contract as “sinister” and demanded further explanation from the government.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith added that the contract “runs counter to the stated position of the Government and should be scrapped”.
And Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, former director of civil liberties group Liberty, said the contract with Entrust suggested ministers were trying to shuffle vaccine passports into legislation without proper Parliamentary debate. She said:
“This isn’t a mere question of competence but far more sinister. This is studied chaos. We need to be explicitly reassured that the government has not already decided in favour of some kind of national ID system.”
Earlier this year the Prime Minister appointed Michael Gove to oversee a review into the introduction of vaccine passports both for international travel and for entry to large-scale events in the UK.