The open source platform safeguards users’ privacy. The solution aims to become the cornerstone of a future immunization registry.
The LACChain regional alliance enabled a blockchain-based platform, for the population of Latin America, which allows the registration of COVID-19 immunity passports. The initiative offers citizens of the continent an open-source mobile application, called David-19, to share information related to the virus, without exposing users’ private data.
LACChain, an initiative led by the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB Lab), announced the launch of the project, whose objective is to provide a blockchain-based technological tool to facilitate citizens’ movement, respecting the ethical standards for its features of being voluntary and anonymous, as the technical document describes.
The proposed solution aims to issue and manage COVID-19 health passports, registered on a blockchain for monitoring, in real-time, the population’s immunity status. Marcos Allende, LACChain’s technology coordinator, revealed that they will use the Hyperledger network. It could also be the cornerstone of a future digital immunization registry, according to its GitLab repository.
To operate on the platform, users can download the available mobile application, which works as a virtual wallet adder. After selecting a digital wallet (for now, only the REM app is available), users should create their profile and start sharing key information to understand how COVID-19 moves in the region.
Most interactions between participants occur off the chain, with high levels of privacy, scalability, and flexibility. However, citizens can give their explicit consent through VC (verifiable credentials, electronic equivalent of physical credentials) to allow the application to send specific information to the health authorities of each country.
Every Goliath has a David
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, solutions such as the David-19 platform bring new challenges, especially when the magnitude of the battle requires a collective solidarity response. However, the technological gap makes it impossible for many citizens to join, since there are currently Latin America regions without Internet access and millions of people without smartphones.
Another obstacle to an immunity passport as an alternative to unconfinement is the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not support it. The international agency has been recently calling for caution and warning that people should gradually conduct the removal of quarantine measures due to COVID-19. They even say that the population should do it by areas, differentiating between the most and least affected regions of each country. Otherwise, there may be a new and violent outbreak of the coronavirus.
Despite this, projects continue to emerge that promote the idea of an immunity passport to track COVID-19. Only some of these solutions can operate in decentralized environments, which allows the protection of citizens’ private data. Others, such as the one presented by the Argentine Government a few days ago, cause concern in the population about how the State could use the personal data available to them.
Another alternative to COVID-19 contact tracking is a free and open-source application developed by the Zcash Foundation, which is already available for implementation. This platform allows monitoring contacts without surveillance, thus preserving users’ data.
By Alexander Salazar