Florida Governor DeSantis Bans Vaccine Passports - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order on April 2 that banned the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports in the state, explaining that “individual Covid-19 vaccination records are private health information and should not be shared by a mandate”.

The order prohibits any government entity from issuing a vaccine passport and bans businesses from requiring them. The order comes at a time when vaccine passport companies and vaccination documentation technology are on the rise, with many seeing digital vaccine passports as the key to returning the economy and life back to normal.

In the order, DeSantis cites freedom and privacy concerns as primary reasons for the prohibition of vaccine passports, stating that “requiring so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life—such as attending a sporting event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater—would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination”.

Notably, Florida has been criticized recently for its slow vaccine rollout. An analysis by the Associated Press placed Florida near the bottom of a graph depicting vaccines administered to eligible adults in the first three months of the rollout, with just 35,000 vaccines administered per 100,000 people. Experts say that Florida rushed its vaccine eligibility timeline, especially considering so much of Florida’s population could qualify for the vaccine.

The Perils of Vaccine Passports

As more and more people get vaccinated, the government is scrambling to develop a system in which to track each person’s vaccination status. The ACLU has released a statement warning of the perils of vaccine passports, many of which are digital.

“Our nation’s primary push right now should be equitable vaccine distribution that gets as many people as possible vaccinated and reaching herd immunity,” wrote Jay Stanley, a Senior Policy Analyst at ACLU. 

He then laid out three critical criteria that would be necessary for an equitable vaccine passport system: not entirely digital, decentralized and open-source, and not allowing companies to track data. These three criteria protect against some of the privacy and accessibility concerns cited by DeSantis, and help to ensure that marginalized groups—such as those without access to smartphones—aren’t further restricted from moving freely in a post-COVID world.

According to officials, the Biden administration is currently working on developing a way for people to prove their vaccination status.


Lydia You is a computer scientist from Princeton University based in New York City. She is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review covering the intersection of global tech policy, internet culture and the future of digital media.

Contact Lydia You at lydia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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