Respect for personal information must underpin vaccine passports: privacy watchdogs

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OTTAWA — Canada's privacy commissioners say respect for laws and principles governing personal information must guide introduction of proof-of-vaccination certificates that could smooth the transition to post-pandemic life.

A joint statement today by federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners says "vaccine passports" must comply with applicable privacy laws and incorporate best practices.

Such passports, whether in paper or digital form, can help someone prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they have immunity, opening the door to travel, services and facilities.

The commissioners say while this might offer substantial public benefit, it is an encroachment on civil liberties that should be taken only after careful consideration.

They recommend conditions including clear legal authority for introducing use of vaccine passports for each intended purpose.

Such legal authority might come from a new law, an existing statute or a public health order.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2021.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press