Digital Vaccination Certificates -- Here Be Dragons!

I am watching with dismay the swirling whirlpool of confusion that is being driven by a combination of good intentions, desperation, competing interests and self-interest around the domain of Digital Vaccination Certificates.

I do not work for a public health agency, so have no perspective, remit or authorities when it comes to the authoritativeness of the data and the specific elements that would need to feed a digital VaxCert representation.  I defer to the experts at our U.S. CDC and the WHO that have this remit to inform and influence this in a manner that incorporates the broadest possible public interest equities.

However, as you all know, we have done extensive public work (5+ years and counting to date) to ensure that technical implementations of solutions that could support digital VaxCerts (and many other things) are not developed in manner that enables "walled gardens" or closed technology platforms that do not support common standards for security, privacy, and data exchange.  In particular, as a potential future consumer of digital VaxCerts, we have a vested interest in ensuring the global interoperability of such solutions.

Over the last number of months we have been bombarded with a singular question "What are the lessons learned or feedback you could share from your interoperability journey that *may* be relevant here?"

The answer to this in general has three aspects:

  1.  Expect and anticipate breakage, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
  2.  Everyone is not going to get everything they want right now
  3.  Real interoperability REQUIRES constraints!

Because I believe that this is an important conversation, I figure I would put together some high level slideware that synthesizes and shares the answers I have provided directly to those who have asked.  I am not in the hearts and minds business, so consider this in the spirit of the quote from Bruce Lee - "Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own."

Happy to chat to share our mistakes, so that you don't need to repeat them, with those who have a public interest focus in this area.

Best Regards,


Anil John
Technical Director, Silicon Valley Innovation Program
Science and Technology Directorate
US Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC, USA

Email Response Time - 24 Hours


Received on Saturday, 27 February 2021 19:05:06 UTC