How secure is New York’s vaccine passport app? If you’re Mickey Mouse, very

How secure is New York’s vaccine passport app? If you’re Mickey Mouse, very
Albert Fox Cahn and his COVID alter ego (Image via Twitter)

Last Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proudly announced that the city would become the nation’s first to issue a COVID passport. Called a “Key to NYC Pass,” the app would be required of workers and customers to gain access to indoor seating at restaurants, gyms, movie houses, theaters, and more.

“We think it is so important to make clear that if you are vaccinated, you get to benefit in all sorts of ways,” De Blasio is quoted by the New York Times as having said in an interview on NY1. “You get to live a better life.”

Said like a true Democrat! Never mind that the Declaration of Independence promised all Americans the unalienable right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bill de Blasio declares otherwise. So does Joe Biden. “I announced the Key to NYC pass,” de Blasio boasted on Thursday, “and about five hours later the president of the United States endorsed it.” Whether he endorsed the notion with his “word as a Biden,” de Blasio doesn’t specify.

One way of accessing the app, which will be available in September, is via the NYC COVID Safe app, accessible to iPhones only. (If New Yorkers want a “better life,” they’ll need to trade their Android phones in for an iPhone.) Using this app, users can upload a photo of their COVID-19 vaccine card and then flash the image to gain entry one of the above-mentioned places of business.

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So how foolproof is the app? Totally says, de Blasio, who goes on to claim “[It’s] not connected to the Internet. Can’t be hacked.”

“No,” Albert Fox Cahn founder and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), replied to de Blasio’s claims. “That statement from a technical perspective just doesn’t make any sense.”

To prove the nonsensicality of de Blasio’s claims, Cahn first read NYC COVID Safe’s terms and conditions and found the app is indeed Internet-enabled to document one’s IP address every time it is opened. To test its hackability, Cahn also uploaded a photo of Mickey Mouse in place of his vaccine card. The app approved Mickey with the maximum three green checkmarks.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."

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