New York City Mayor de Blasio, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several mayoral wannabes voiced qualified support for the state's new "vaccine passport" program - which allows New Yorkers to use an app to get into events like Yankees games - even as critics raise privacy concerns.
"There is an understandable tension here between sort of the greater public good in terms of health and well-being, but also individual rights," Hizzoner said at a press conference earlier this week.
"The passport idea is a very good idea. People need to know their information will be secure. They need to know their privacy will not be invaded," he added.
Earlier this month, the state unveiled the "Excelsior Pass" as a way New Yorkers can quickly show proof of vaccination at stadiums and other venues. Users can fill out their info online, which then gets checked with government records of people who have been vaccinated. If that's confirmed, users get the ability to show their status on an app or print out the documentation.
Schumer didn't have much to say on the matter except that "I'm going to leave that one up to the scientific experts," he said.
Andrew Yang, a leading candidate in the city's mayoral race, praised the passport idea.
"It's just a way to facilitate people being able to gather together in large numbers," he said. "Nobody would want to get a new [COVID] test every time you want to go to a game."
Rival candidates Shaun Donovan and Kathryn Garcia echoed growing concerns that low-income people won't be able to use a vaccine passport.
"You've got to lean in for communities that have less access to everything," said Garcia, de Blasio's former sanitation commissioner, adding that nonprofits could be used to facilitate passport signups.
"It is critically important to ensure that equity is front and center of the process," said Donovan, a former high-up in the Bloomberg and Obama administrations. "My administration would support this idea in general and would closely track and monitor for equity." © Provided by New York Daily NewsNew York State "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
New York State "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Albert Fox Cahn, head of the nonprofit Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, said it took him just 11 minutes to set up a fake Excelsior Pass account using biographical info cribbed from an acquaintance who volunteered for the hacking experiment.
"It's a bad idea that's being made even worse by a terrible rollout," he told the Daily News. "The technology isn't secure."
The Cuomo run-Empire State Development Corporation defended the app as safe, though it cautioned New Yorkers to use common sense online.
"The entire system was created with privacy and security in mind," spokeswoman Kristin Devoe stated. "However, those who post personal information online such as their [federal vaccine] card risk having someone use their information to create a false document, which is why every Excelsior Pass has to be cross-referenced with photo ID when you enter a venue."
With Michael Gartland