Vaccine Passports Will Create a ‘Global Digital Infrastructure of Surveillance’: Former Ontario Privacy Commissioner

Vaccine passports mandated by governments will create a highly intrusive surveillance system that not only forces Canadians to reveal their health information but can also track their whereabouts, Ontario’s former privacy commissioner says.
Ann Cavoukian, former information and privacy commissioner of Ontario. (Courtesy of Ann Cavoukian)
The personal information linked to each individual’s vaccine passport reveals substantial data that introduces serious privacy concerns, says Dr. Ann Cavoukian, who now serves as executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre.
“Wherever you have to give your vaccine passport, it’s not just the QR code. They’re asking you for identification—your driver’s licence, your phone number—there’s personal information linked to it,” said Cavoukian, who is also a senior fellow at the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at Ryerson University.
Cavoukian, who served three terms as Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner from 1997 to 2014, says the health information collected through the vaccine passport can be retained in association with a person’s geolocation around the world.
“There will be geolocation data associated with where you were, and at what time. [Governments] can engage in surveillance and pull these all together and know where you were, at what time, who you were with,” she said.
This type of data-tracking will create a “global digital infrastructure of surveillance” she added, fed by the “hundreds and thousands of sites that are obtaining these vaccine passports from you.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said the province’s vaccine passport system, which came into effect on Sept. 22, is a temporary measure.
The Quebec government’s new vaccine passport, called VaxiCode, is shown on a phone in Montreal on Aug. 25, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
Cavoukian counters that “temporary” measures introduced during emergencies seldom go away. She cited the example of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack against the United States in 2001 while she was still serving as commissioner.
“What often happens is when there’s an emergency, the privacy laws get lifted because it’s an emergency situation and additional measures are introduced. Then, when the emergency ends, those privacy-invasive measures often continue,” she said.
“That’s what happened with 9/11, with the Patriot Act, and others. And so my fear is that people are going to just expect to have to reveal vaccine status on a go-forward basis, even when the pandemic ends.”
The USA Patriot Act was introduced in the wake of 9/11 as a means for the U.S. government to increase its ability to intercept and obstruct terrorist communications and activities. The act expanded the government’s power to monitor phone and email communications, conduct searches, and seize or demand disclosure of records.
‘It should never be privacy versus public safety’
Cavoukian says the government has no legal basis to demand that people reveal their medical information, including their vaccination status.
“Health information is very strongly protected,” said Cavoukian. “In Canada, in Ontario, we have the PHIPA, the Personal Health Information Protection Act. So it should be only an individual’s choice if they wish to reveal this information.”
“With vaccine passports, people are being forced, they’re demanded to reveal their vaccine status. And that should be no one’s business except for the individual and their own doctor.”
Debates about the merits of vaccine passports continue, with some experts contending that the system will keep people safer and allow the economy to reopen, with the common good outweighing any privacy issues.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland hold a press conference in Ottawa on Oct. 6, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Cavoukian calls this argument “nonsense” because privacy infringements inherently make citizens more vulnerable. She says that instead of vaccine passports, less invasive measures such as rapid testing could be introduced.
“It should never be privacy versus public safety. It’s not a zero-sum game, either-or, win-lose. It has to [be] privacy and public safety,” Cavoukian said.
The privacy expert said her concerns extend to Canadians who chose not to be vaccinated and may face discrimination or even unemployment related to their vaccination status.
“It’s so unfair because there are some people who are immunocompromised, they have anaphylaxis, they cannot get vaccinated. So those people are going to be treated terribly.”
British Columbia residents face one of the most stringent proof-of-vaccination systems in Canada. The B.C. government’s vaccine card, which came into effect on Sept. 13, allows access to certain “non-essential” businesses and services while provincial health authorities do not allow any exemptions for those who remain unvaccinated, including people with complex medical conditions.
Vaccine passport systems have been steadily expanding across Canada since September, and various versions are now enforced or planned in nearly every province and territory.
At the federal level, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced at a joint press conference on Oct. 6 that federal employees have until Oct. 29 to be fully vaccinated or face being “placed on administrative leave without pay as early as Nov. 15.”
And starting Oct. 30, all travellers aged 12 or older will also be required to provide proof of full vaccination before boarding planes, trains, or marine vessels in Canada.
Cavoukian says she is “very, very concerned” about what happens to the vaccine passport systems’ “inescapable web of surveillance” after the pandemic ends.
“Privacy forms the foundation of our freedom. If you value freedom and liberty, you value privacy,” she said. “We have to stand up for our freedom and we have to stand up for privacy.”

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Isaac Teo is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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War Room Pandemic Tuesday Show Recap 10/19

Please Follow us on Gab, Minds, Telegram, Rumble, Gab TV, GETTR Episode 1,346 – Patriotism Is Still Alive And Well Episode 1,347 – Virginia Is A Litmus Test For The Rest Of The Country Episode 1,348 – The Biden Administration Values Optics Over Results Biden Trying To Prevent Optics Problem In Middle Of The Night AZ …

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Senators Seek Details From US Electronics Firm on Uyghur Labor

WASHINGTON—A group of Democratic and Republican U.S. senators wrote to remote-control maker Universal Electronics Inc on Wednesday about concerns the Arizona-based company could be implicated in the mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
The letter cited a Reuters report earlier this month that Universal struck a deal with authorities in Xinjiang to transport hundreds of Uyghur workers to its plant in the southern Chinese city of Qinzhou. There, workers live in segregated dormitories, are continuously surveilled by police, and made to participate in government “education activities,” Reuters reported.
“We believe these conditions bear obvious signs of forced labor,” said Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Jeff Merkley and Republican Senator Marco Rubio in the letter to Universal Electronics Chief Executive Paul Arling.
“We are especially troubled that Universal Electronics appears to have done little to investigate or remedy the situation,” the letter, which was seen by Reuters, added.
Universal Electronics told Reuters earlier this month the company currently employs 365 Uyghur workers at the Qinzhou plant. It said it treated them the same as other workers in China and it did not regard any of its employees as forced labor.
The Nasdaq-listed firm, which has sold its equipment and software to Sony, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, and other companies, also does not conduct independent due diligence on where and how its workers are trained in Xinjiang. It said the arrangement is vetted by a third-party agent, which it declined to name, working with the Xinjiang government.
In the letter to Arling, the U.S. senators cited State Department findings that Chinese authorities use threats of physical violence, forcible drug intake, physical and sexual abuse, and torture to force detainees to work in adjacent or off-site factories or worksites.
The letter asked Universal Electronics to provide, no later than Nov. 5, information including the text of its 2019 agreement with the Xinjiang government regarding Uyghur laborers, the number of Uyghurs employed in China, and documentation to support the company’s assertion that none of its labor is forced.
The senators also asked for details of employee training programs related to forced labor and human trafficking, records of audits of facilities in China, and the content of any disclosure to shareholders about the use of transferred Uyghur laborers.
By Patricia Zengerle

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US Olympians Voice Concern Over Human Rights Ahead of Beijing 2022

Veteran Olympians for the United States denounced China’s track record on human rights this week but stopped short of endorsing a boycott of Beijing 2022, with the Winter Games quickly approaching.
Rights groups and U.S. lawmakers have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone the 2022 Games and relocate the event unless China ends what the United States deems an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Tuesday it would prioritize educating its athletes on global issues ahead of the Games, where some could face questions on China’s human rights record.
At the USOPC media summit this week, however, athletes were already part of the conversation.
“Athletes have a voice and why not use them,” two-time Olympic luger Tucker West told reporters Tuesday. “Every human deserves to be treated equally with respect and dignity and fairness—you know, I’ll kind of leave it at that.
“Regarding the boycott: It’s not my job to decide where the Olympics are.”
Addressing China’s human rights record, three-time Olympic ice dancer Evan Bates offered among the strongest denunciations.
“It’s terrible—it’s awful. And I don’t think any athlete would be in support of that,” Bates said, adding that celebrating “what the Olympic movement stands for” was important.
“I have no problem speaking for the athletes and saying that what’s happening there is terrible and we’re human beings too and when we read and hear about the things that are happening there, we absolutely hate that. We hate what’s going on there.”
The USOPC on Monday refused to be drawn into the debate, as Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland drove home a message that Olympic boycotts essentially harm athletes and do very little to impact problems in host countries.
But the topic remained front-and-center as Beijing Olympics organizers received the Olympic flame on Tuesday in Athens while human rights activists called for a boycott.
“For a greater change to occur there must be the power that is beyond the Olympics. It has to be changed at a remarkable scale,” said figure skater Nathan Chen, who picked up a bronze medal in the team event at the Pyeongchang Games.
“However, the fact that people are talking about this issue, and the Olympics are bringing it to light is already a step in the right direction.”
By Amy Tennery

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Djokovic Will Need to Be Vaccinated to Play Australian Open: Minister

CANBERRA—Novak Djokovic will not be able to enter Australia to defend his Australian Open title unless he is fully vaccinated for COVID-19, the country’s immigration minister said on Wednesday, putting the Serb’s Grand Slam record bid in doubt.
World number one Djokovic, who is level with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles, has declined to reveal his vaccination status, and said he is unsure if he will defend his Australian Open crown.
Clarifying Australia’s visa requirements, Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke said foreign players would need to have had two vaccination shots to play the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January.
“You’ll need to be double vaccinated to visit Australia. That’s a universal application, not just to tennis players. I mean that every visitor to Australia will need to be double vaccinated,” Hawke told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.
“I don’t have a message to Novak. I have a message to everybody that wishes to visit Australia. He’ll need to be double vaccinated.”
Apart from Serbian Djokovic, who has won nine of his Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and the last three in succession at Melbourne Park, the rule could exclude scores of players from the tournament.
More than a third of professional players remain unvaccinated, according to recent media reports.
A person walks past an Australian Open logo at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, on Jan. 31, 2021. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)
Both the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours have urged players to get vaccinated but some have voiced reservations.
Russian men’s U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and German world number four Alex Zverev have expressed skepticism, although their vaccination status remains unknown.
Greek world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas said in August he would only get vaccinated if it became mandatory, though later said he planned to have shots by the end of the year.
Tennis Australia, which organizes the Grand Slam, said it was working with authorities on conditions for players, fans, and tournament staff.
“Our understanding is that the details around international visitors entering the country are yet to be decided and we hope to have more information soon,” the governing body said.
Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt said the country’s rules were about protecting Australians.
“They apply to everyone without fear or favor. It doesn’t matter whether you are number one in the world or you are anything else,” he told a media conference on Wednesday.
Australia has shut its international borders to non-citizens and non-permanent residents for 18 months, though there have been some high-profile exceptions.
International travel is expected to begin for Australian citizens within weeks, but non-citizens are expected to be shut out until early-2022.
Authorities in Victoria state, which hosts the Australian Open, said they would not make special deals with unvaccinated athletes to allow them to compete even if they secured visas.
Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, has been locked down since August due to an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant but will begin to open up on Friday, when 70 percent of the adult population in Victoria is expected to be fully vaccinated.
By Colin Packham

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Poll: Joe Biden’s Approval Rating Across 7 Senate Battlegrounds at 41 Percent

President Joe Biden’s approval rating across seven Senate battleground states is at 41 percent, a Senate Majority PAC revealed Wednesday. Biden dragging in statewide polling is an indicator Republicans have an opportunity to not just win the House but also the Senate.
The poll, produced by a PAC that is reportedly close to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), also marked Biden at a 52 percent disapproval rating across the battleground states, which corresponds with national polling data.

The poll was conducted in battlegrounds states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Georgia, and Nevada.

“Among persuadable targets, however, just 27 percent say they approve of the job the president is doing while 57 percent disapprove,” Politico reported.
Wednesday’s polling data appears to be worse for Biden than it was in May, when the PAC indicated 49 percent approving and 43 disapproving. A Democrat told the publication:

We are sleepwalking. We are so focused on getting these deals done, but in the grand scheme of it we have to be focused on Republicans. That’s the key here. They’re getting a free pass. It’s going to be really rough, and I really worry about some of our senators.

In state politics, not many statewide races produce different outcomes than how constituents view the president. With Biden sinking in state polling, he is sure to find it difficult to maintain or win a Senate that is split 50-50, a promising prospect for Senate Republican candidates.
September polling by Civiqs indicated Biden was also underwater in many states besides New Hampshire. The poll marked Biden’s underwater approval rating appears as follows: Wisconsin -6, Pennsylvania -12, Florida -11, North Carolina -12, New Hampshire +1, Georgia -13 and Nevada -4.
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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Republican Senators Block Team-Left Election Reform Bill

In a final tally of 51 to 49, Republican senators voted against a democrat voting rights and election reform bill on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber will consider the alternative to the Freedom to Vote Act – the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – sometime next week.
“By voting no to even begin debate, republicans are giving implicit endorsement of the horrid new voter suppression and election subversion laws passed in states across the country,” Schumer said, per Just the News.

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW? Sources Say Joe Manchin is Considering a Switch

Joe Manchin, the democratic senator known for often taking the road less traveled when it comes to voting with his party, is rumored to be considering switching parties. 

BREAKING: Joe Manchin telling colleagues he is considering leaving the Democrat Party to become Independent

— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) October 20, 2021

BREAKING: Sen. Joe Manchin has told associates in recent days that he is considering leaving the Democratic Party. And not only that: He has a two-step exit strategy already planned. https://t.co/orPSjB2pru
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) October 20, 2021

However, as with every story, there are always two sides. 

.@Sen_JoeManchin denies report he’s leaving Dem Party. “I have no control over the rumors.” Per @marianne_levine
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) October 20, 2021

“It’s bullshit!” Joe Manchin says when asked if it’s true he’s considering switching political parties.
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) October 20, 2021

This is a developing story. Check back with Human Events News for updates. 

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Conservatives Push Back Against Parliament’s Mandatory Vaccine Requirement for MPs

The Conservative Party is protesting a new mandatory vaccination policy that would ban members of parliament who aren’t fully vaccinated from entering the House of Commons’ precinct when Parliament resumes on Nov. 22.
The federal Conservatives voiced their protest in a statement after the House of Commons governing body announced the new rules on Oct. 19, requiring MPs and their staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed into the chambers. Individuals with medical exemptions who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine can instead provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 rapid test result.
“While we encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated, we cannot agree to seven MPs, meeting in secret, deciding which of the 338 MPs, just elected by Canadians, can enter the House of Commons to represent their constituents,” Conservative MP Blake Richards said in the Oct. 20 statement.
Richards is one of the two Conservative members on the Board of Internal Economy, which issued the statement declaring the new mandatory vaccine policy after a closed-door meeting on Oct. 19. The board also includes four Liberal MPs, one Bloc Québécois MP, and one NDP MP.
“This [vaccination] requirement will apply to any person who wishes to enter the House of Commons Precinct, including members and their staff, political research office employees, administration employees, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, parliamentary business visitors, contractors and consultants,” the board’s statement said.
The Conservatives also raised objections to more virtual chamber meetings in the new parliamentary session.

“Canadians deserve a government that is accountable to its constituents and that’s why under no circumstances will Conservatives support virtual Parliament,” the party’s statement said.
The Board of Internal Economy’s new measure comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consults with opposition leaders on the return of the Parliament.
The Liberal Party and the NDP required their candidates to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the 2021 federal election campaign, though the restriction was not applied to staff members.

Andrew Chen
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Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

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