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As counterfeit Covid passports proliferate online, experts are calling for the establishment of a blockchain-based vaccine registry in Australia.
With fraudulent Australian coronavirus vaccination certificates spreading online, local experts are pushing for the nationwide implementation of a blockchain-based vaccine passport to secure the country’s “Covid certificate” system’s efficacy.
A report in The Australian cites fraudsters who claim to have sold more than 200 fake COVID-19 certificates for $120 or more each and received interest from at least 900 other prospective customers. The scam artists advertise their wares as being so convincing that “you’ll be the only one who knows you haven’t been vaccinated,” and they say they can arrange for doctors to enter bogus vaccination records into the Australian Immunization Registry.
Another vendor of phoney Covid certificates claims to have cooperated with doctors across Australia, Europe, the United States, and parts of Asia to provide false vaccination records abroad.
Other merchants claim to offer more cost-effective methods of circumventing health regulations, claiming to sell doctored vaccination certificates for $12.99 apiece directly from the Apple App Store.
According to Robert Potter of cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0, Australia must use blockchain technology to safeguard the security of its Covid certificate system. He asked both Australian and foreign governments to implement a blockchain-based “non-reproducible signing authority”:
“We can come up with a foolproof system that only we can use, but we actually need a global system that everyone can use,” he said. “It would be the cryptographic equivalent of a hologram.”
Blockchain is already being utilised to verify Covid vaccination status around the world, with initiatives in the United States, China, South Korea, and Colombia now investigating the technology. IBM, a global technology behemoth, has already built a blockchain-powered system that is connected with Amadeus, an airline booking system used by over 450 airlines worldwide.
Blockchain Australia deputy chair Karen Cohen believes a blockchain-based Covid certificate could pave the way for the secure sharing of health data worldwide, stating: “This would be a really wonderful test case as a globally secured way of sharing health data.”
However, not everyone in Australia feels that a blockchain-based vaccination system is required, with Services Australia general manager Hank Jongen claiming that his organization’s existing Covid certificate application offers “improved anti-fraud capabilities.”
“Any fraudulent generation of a COVID-19 digital certificate does not imply that our systems or personal data have been compromised,” Jongen explained. “Where there are anomalies, […] Services Australia will contact the provider to check the correctness of this information and, if necessary, amend the record.”