The G20 and the “success” of the QR code.

Summary of the article

A G20 statement announces further steps for international digital standardization, citing the success of the Covid-19 approach. In 2019, I would react positively to that, but because of what has happened in recent years, it now mainly arouses suspicion.

Read the full article: G20 and the “success” of the QR code.

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Statement G20

At the G20 summit in Bali, a statement was released in which they talk about further cooperation on the development of international digital standards in relation to vaccination. Both for the sake of international travel and in relation to preventing and combating future pandemics. This is the deliberate excerpt of this statement.

I have read very negative reactions to this statement in several places. The Independ website does this in relation to the large amount of money that VWS has invested in the Corona app again this year. It is fascinating to read again what Minister Kuiper said to the Danish Parliament on 7 February about the almost 30 million euros that would be invested in the app.

G20 and the success of the QR code - 52478

You should also realize that this was said exactly 2.5 weeks after the mid-December 2021 lockdown ended and three weeks before almost all measures were lifted…

2019

Before people start ranting about how bad this statement from the G20 is, I want to get a few points straight.

Let’s imagine that we are back in 2019. The development to make our lives easier through digitizations has been welcomed by the vast majority of people, including me. I liked and think it’s a nice development that I can easily pay via my phone. I don’t need to carry more money with me. My phone case contains my debit card and driver’s license, so I don’t need to carry anything else, and payments are smooth and fast.

I had and have for a long time realized that true privacy no longer exists. By working with a smartphone, using many useful apps and storing a lot of information in the cloud, you give up a lot of your privacy, despite people pretending otherwise. If you want to hurt, you can do it, and I have little faith in the guarantees that people make that it won’t happen. You can then make the choice, if you don’t want to run these privacy risks, to not use many of these technological options. But not many do. And neither do I.

Of course we have to try as much as possible to ensure that privacy is guaranteed, but I have been informed many times that my data was part of a hack that was done somewhere. I change my passwords regularly, I also have a special password app for that. Several times people tried to cheat me out of money through tricks, but I saw through that plan. These are just the things I’ve noticed, while behind the scenes I think a lot more has gone wrong with my private life.

In short: I kept in mind that my information is not really safe and I can live with it until now. The benefit seems to outweigh the harm.

And if I had looked at this statement from the G20 in 2022 with that approach from the year 2019, there would have been no alarm signals for me. Let’s face it: On my many trips with my passport from 2015, I have seen how digitization has already penetrated there and how collaboration is done via international standards. When you enter many countries, your passport goes into a digital reading system that takes a picture of you with a camera and it is determined via facial recognition that you actually belong to that passport and are allowed to enter the country.

And I also have no doubt that in many countries cameras not only automatically read car number plates, but also face recognition via the cameras in crucial places. Even in countries where you might not expect it. But so far I haven’t experienced any damage from it.

2022

What has happened in the last 2.5 years has ensured that one has also seen what the disadvantage of such systems can be. There is still a practical way of working digitally that goes -much- faster than if people would still have done it manually. But what we have also seen, but now in real life, is that the decision-making and underpinning of these digital tools leaves a lot to be desired, to put it euphemistically. And then you see the danger that these handy digital instruments are misused to indirectly achieve other goals. The Coronaaccess pass is a good example of this. The rationale for the operation was weak. Even those who were vaccinated could infect others. The goal also seemed to be to make life as difficult as possible for unvaccinated people so that they took a vaccination anyway.

The way it was handled in Holland was not as bad as it was done in Canada. But Canada in particular proved how far government is willing to go to achieve its goals, and how much easier digital tools made it. In Canada, for a long time, unvaccinated people were not allowed on public transport or by plane.

It increased distrust

The extra opportunities for a good digital set-up have been destroyed, so to speak, because the governments have shown in the past 2.5 years:

  • that they are not transparent in the models they used to take drastic measures
  • that they are not prepared to examine the effect of the measures through an independent committee
  • that what they did digitally (such as the Corona detector) worked poorly and cost a lot of money
  • that little thought has been given to fundamental rights when introducing measures.

The positive feeling I had until 2020 about the digital development has turned into suspicion over the past 2.5 years.

As long as the governments involved do not show that they want to take real steps to restore this trust, suspicion will persist. If they do not become transparent in their decision-making, do not allow for independent evaluations and involve many experts in new decision-making, they themselves create the conditions for such statements as those made by the G20 to be viewed with suspicion by many rather than welcome. It is sad that it has come to this.

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