Wednesday, December 23, 2020 : By Nathan Skates
As concern over privacy and government overreach grows, former Democrat Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has said there should be a barcode on phones to prove that a person has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Critics claim Yang’s comment is reminiscent of the yellow Star of David that Jews in Nazi Germany were required to wear as a way to publicly identify, humiliate, and isolate them.
As the first round of COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered, businessman and former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has voiced support for a digital way to show who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. Critics claim the idea is authoritarian and unconstitutional, leading to further discussion about safety versus privacy and government intrusion.
“Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated — like a bar code they can download to their phone? There ought to be. Tough to have mass gatherings like concerts or ballgames without either mass adoption of the vaccine or a means of signaling … I’ve been tested at a photo shoot or interview and gotten a bracelet showing I was negative. Then we could interact more freely.”
I’ve been tested at a photo shoot or interview and gotten a bracelet showing I was negative. Then we could interact more freely.
— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) December 18, 2020
Critics claim that Yang’s idea is dangerous and would allow people to be grouped and isolated in the same way Nazi Germany did to the Jews in the years leading up to the Holocaust.
Unfortunately, Yang is not the only progressive pushing the idea. Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow with the Center for Global Development, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, is also suggesting that some type of technology is needed to verify whether someone has had the vaccine. He said this sort of identification and tracking was necessary for the greater good.
“There would be gatekeepers, as I call them, at different places, be it at your workplace or your office when you go in, or a stadium to watch the Bucks play. They would require some form of assurance that you have been vaccinated.”
Already, some countries have instituted a similar policy using QR codes. Australia, Japan, China, and Singapore have introduced tracking apps to monitor COVID-19 exposure and the movements of people.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pushed for a global COVID-19 tracking system. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, China mandated the use of QR codes to store and track health history and travel history. It relies on color-codes to determines the level of COVID-19 risk.
Xi has said that global adoption of a similar system is needed to get the global economy back on track. “China has proposed a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates based on nucleic acid test results in the form of internationally accepted QR codes,” he stated. “We hope more countries will join this mechanism.”
China routinely invades the privacy of its own citizens, including tracking their movements and their behavior, and relies on a social credit score based on those travels and behaviors as a way to control people. Western nations trying to navigate their way out of the pandemic will hopefully refrain from adopting such strong-handed tactics.
Vice President Mike Pence was filmed receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to instill public confidence in the vaccine, and Joe Biden has also been vaccinated. Many Americans, however, are concerned about safety due to the speed with which the vaccine was developed. Some pro-life groups are morally opposed to taking the vaccine due to the use of fetal tissue in its development. Moreover, overall public trust in the government and its intentions has been shaken as the result of government overreach through lockdowns and other mandates that have already limited freedom and civil liberties.
What Yang is proposing needs to be publicly debated, rather than mandated by unaccountable health officials. And any debate needs to also relay transparent information about whether the Chinese would be involved in such an initiative. However, even suggesting, much less voluntarily mimicking, the Chinese Communist Party’s social control policies is a dangerous proposition — even if for a seemingly beneficial cause. Yang did not seem to be advocating for quite the invasive policy that Chinese President Xi supports, but given the infringement of civil liberties that have already taken place during this pandemic, it is not a good sign that progressives and other public health advocates are so keen on adopting tracking mechanisms and policies that would further erode personal freedom, invade citizen’s privacy and autonomy, and take us ever farther from our American ideals.
Check out this episode of the Falkirk Center podcast with Phill Kline on giving up liberty for safety: