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Vaccine Passports Are Catnip for Big Tech

Nikkei Asia reported:

Just over a year ago, international borders closed as part of the unprecedented emergency response to the pandemic.

Governments began to experiment with technological solutions to managing the movement of people, specifically at borders, but also more broadly for the purposes of contact tracing and enforcing social distancing rules. Since then, we have witnessed the rapid acceleration of the militarization of border policing in the name of profit.

The idea of vaccine passports is the logical next step. They have been floated in various ways, and the concept can mean different things.

Physician Who Proudly Rejected Wearing Masks Ordered to Stop Practicing Medicine During COVID-19

Daily KOS reported:

Amid the ongoing global pandemic, people who work in health care have gotten well-deserved thanks. Physicians, nurses, aides, janitorial staff, and others who work in hospital, clinic, and outpatient settings have put up with grueling schedules, a lack of personal protective equipment, and burnout from witnessing so much illness and death in rapidly changing environments. That said, there have been medical professionals who have tried to downplay and dismiss the severity of the novel coronavirus.

As is the case with one physician in Oregon, Steven LaTulippe, he once bragged that neither he nor his staff would wear masks while serving patients at his family health clinic in Dallas, Oregon, as reported by The Independent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Oregon Medical Board ruled that LaTulippe will not be allowed to practice medicine until Oregon’s public health emergency is over, as reported by BuzzFeed News.

Some States and Retailers Usher in Return to Normalcy for People Vaccinated Against COVID-19

CNN reported:

Several state governors and big retailers signaled a return to normal on Friday, a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to remove their face masks in most settings.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Friday the state — which just recently battled a surge in coronavirus cases — will lift its mask requirement for fully vaccinated people effective Saturday at 9 a.m.

“The vast majority of us have trusted the scientists and experts to keep us safe during the pandemic, and it has worked. With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal,” Whitmer said.

Hundreds of Epidemiologists Expected Mask-Wearing in Public for at Least a Year

The New York Times reported:

When federal health officials said on Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear masks in most places, it came as a surprise to many people in public health. It also was a stark contrast with the views of a large majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by The New York Times.

In the informal survey, 80% said they thought Americans would need to wear masks in public indoor places for at least another year. Just 5% said people would no longer need to wear masks indoors by this summer.

How Apple’s Airtag Turns Us Into Unwitting Spies in a Vast Surveillance Network

The Guardian reported:

Apple has launched the latest version of its operating system, iOS 14.5, which features the much-anticipated app tracking transparency function, bolstering the tech giant’s privacy credentials.

But iOS 14.5 also introduced support for the new Apple AirTag, which risks doing the opposite.

For the uninitiated, an AirTag is a small device (similar to a Tile) that can be attached to personal items such as keys, wallets or luggage. The tag periodically sends messages that can be used to track its location, letting you find any lost or missing items with the help of an app.

While clearly useful, AirTags can also potentially be misused. Concerns have been raised that they might facilitate stalking, for example.