The Decentralists – Events: BEACON Fireside chat with Michael Cholod – Digital Identity in the Post-Covid era

We are introducing a new format called Events where we share our Decentralists message with others. 

This week, Mike joins the good folks from The Better Ethics and Consumer Outcomes Network (BEACON) for a Fireside Chat about the effects Covid is having on Digital Identity.

We’ve all been living under difficult circumstances for a long time now as we reckon with the COVID pandemic Luckily it seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully, we can all get back to ‘normal’ soon. 

In the rush to get to ‘normal’ many regions around the world are contemplating or have already implemented mandatory ‘proof’ of vaccination as a critical component of the re-opening of their economies. 

In some places, you are required to register for a digital vaccine app that associates your vaccine status with a QR code that can be scanned by a merchant, stadium, or night club, if you are double vaccinated you can get in, if not…you are out of luck. The idea of proving vaccination is also an obvious problem for the vaccine-hesitant and those with the medical reasons that they cannot take the vaccine. 

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation reminds us, there are some Vaccine Passport missteps we should not repeat. Vaccine passports are an issue fraught with present and future risks to our individual rights to privacy, security and anonymity. Tracking vaccination status could provide a tempting back door to dangerous, privacy-eliminating centralized government digital identity initiatives. How we identify ourselves and access services online has become key to the surveillance capitalism business model for today’s Internet. 

That is why any initiative that encompasses digital identity must be thought of through a different lens, a decentralized one. In order to maintain proper respect for freedom of, expression, speech, and movement for the population, digital identity must be user-centric, not service-centric.

About Beacon

Founded in 2017 the Better Ethics and Consumer Outcomes Network (BEACON) is a social innovation organization that operates at the intersection of human-centered design, social impact and public policy. BEACON’s purpose is to advance the quality of human-computer experiences through values-based technology education and innovation.