Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, alongside healthcare companies, US intelligence contractors and the Commons Project Foundation, recently launched the Vaccination Credential Initiative. The initiative’s ambitions reach far beyond vaccines and will have major implications for civil liberties.
On Thursday, tech giants with deep ties to the US national-security state—Microsoft, Oracle, and the MITRE Corporation—announced that they had partnered with several health-care companies to create the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI) to advance the implementation of digital COVID-19 vaccination records.
According to a Reuters report, the VCI “aims to help people get encrypted digital copies of their immunization records stored in a digital wallet of their choice” because the “current system [of vaccination records] does not readily support convenient access and sharing of verifiable vaccination records.”
The initiative, on its website, notes that the VCI is a public-private partnership “committed to empowering individuals with digital vaccination records” so that participants can “protect and improve their health” and “demonstrate their health status to safely return to travel, work, school and life while protecting their data privacy.” The initiative is essentially built on a common framework of digital vaccination “wallets” called SMART Health Cards that are meant to “work across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries” as part of a new global vaccination-record infrastructure.
The host of the VCI website and one the initiative’s key backers is the Commons Project Foundation. That foundation, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF), runs the Common Trust Network, which has three goals that are analogous to those of VCI. As listed on the WEF website, the network’s goals are (1) to empower individuals by providing digital access to their health information; (2) to make it easier for individuals to understand and comply with each destination’s requirements; and (3) to help ensure that only verifiable lab results and vaccination records from trusted sources are presented for the purposes of cross-border travel and commerce.
To advance these goals, the Common Trust Network is powered by “a global registry of trusted laboratory and vaccination data sources” as well as “standard formats for lab results and vaccination records and standard tools to make those results and records digitally accessible.”
Another, and related, Commons Project Foundation and WEF partnership is CommonPass. CommonPass, which is also supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, is both a framework and an app that “will allow individuals to access their lab results and vaccination records, and consent to have that information used to validate their COVID status without revealing any other underlying personal health information.” Current members of CommonPass, including JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, are also members of the Common Trust Network.
This overlap between the Commons Project Foundation/WEF partnerships and the VCI illustrates that the WEF itself is involved with the VCI, albeit indirectly through their partners at the Commons Project Foundation. The Commons Project Foundation itself is worth exploring, as its cofounders, Paul Meyer and Bradley Perkins, have long-standing ties to the RAND Corporation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the International Rescue Committee, as noted in this article published last year by MintPress News. The IRC, currently run by Tony Blair protégé David Milliband, is developing a biometric ID and vaccination-record system for refugees in Myanmar in cooperation with the ID2020 Alliance, which is partnered with CommonPass backer, the Rockefeller Foundation. In addition, the ID2020 Alliance funds the Commons Project Foundation and is also backed by Microsoft, one of the key companies behind the VCI.
Wearable IDs for Your Health and Your Wallet
Overlap between digital vaccination records, promoted via initiatives such as CommonPass and VCI, and the push for a new global digital-identity system is no coincidence. Indeed, the developer of VCI’s SMART Health Cards framework at Microsoft Health, Josh C. Mandel, noted in his overview presentation on that framework that digital identity is integral to the digital vaccination-record effort. SMART Health Cards, as of now, are expected to include a person’s complete name, gender, birth date, mobile phone number, and email address in addition to vaccination information, though it is possible and likely that more personal information will be required as the initiative advances, given that VCI states that these identifiers are merely a starting point.
While advertised as digital vaccination records, SMART Health Cards are clearly intended to be used for much more. For instance, public information on the framework notes that SMART Health Cards are “building blocks that can be used across health care,” including managing a complete immunization record that goes far beyond COVID-19 vaccines, sharing data with public-health agencies, and communication with health-care providers.
Yet, this framework will not be limited to health-care information, as Mandel has said. In his presentation, he notes the application of SMART Health Cards could soon be used as IDs for commercial activity, such as renting a car. The VCI framework’s use of the term “digital wallet” to refer to its digital vaccination record is also suggestive of future connectivity to economic activity. Efforts to link digital identity, not just to economic activity but also to health data, have recently escalated, for example with the piloting of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (aka GAVI)–Mastercard–Trust Stamp partnership in Africa. That program, first launched in 2018, links Trust Stamp’s digital-identity platform with the GAVI-Mastercard Wellness Pass, a digital vaccination record, and Mastercard’s click-to-pay system run on AI technology called NuData. Mastercard and GAVI are both partnered with the ID2020 Alliance, which includes VCI member Microsoft.
Given the reasonable speculation that such platforms would utilize digital currency, specifically cryptocurrency, for financial activity, it is worth noting that VCI member Microsoft filed a patent in 2019 that would allow “human body activity,” including brain waves and body heat, to mine (i.e., generate) cryptocurrency. This, of course, would link biometrics to financial activity, among other things.
Such a system, as laid out in the Microsoft patent, would likely require the introduction of wearables in order to be implemented. Notably, numerous wearables for contactless identity, digital travel passes, and payment devices have recently been launched. Examples include DigitalDNA, Proxy, and FlyWallet. FlyWallet is particularly notable as their latest product, Keyble, is a wearable that combines digital identity through fingerprint authentication, which enables both contactless payments and health applications such as vital-sign monitoring and data sharing with insurance companies and health-care providers.
Sponsored by Spooks and Silicon Valley
The SMART Health Cards framework was developed by a team led by the chief architect of Microsoft Healthcare, Josh Mandel, who was previously the Health IT Ecosystem lead for Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences. Verily is currently heavily involved in COVID-19 testing throughout the United States, particularly in California, and links test recipients’ results to their Google accounts. Their other COVID-19 initiatives have been criticized due to still-unresolved privacy concerns, something that has also plagued several of Verily’s other efforts pre-COVID-19, including those involving Mandel.
Of particular concern is that Verily, and by extension Google, created Project Baseline, which has been collecting “actionable genetic information” with a focus on “population health” from participants since 2017. Yet, during the COVID-19 process, Project Baseline has become an important component of Verily’s COVID-19 testing efforts, raising the unsettling possibility that Verily has been obtaining Americans’ DNA data through its COVID-19 testing activities. While Verily has not addressed this possibility directly, it is worth noting that Google has been heavily involved in amassing genomic data for several years. For instance, in 2013, Google Genomics was founded with the goal of storing and analyzing DNA data on Google Cloud servers. Now known as Cloud Life Sciences, the Google subsidiary has since developed AI algorithms that can “build your genome sequence” and “identify all the mutations that an individual inherits from their parents.”
Google also has close ties with the best-known DNA testing companies in the United States, such as Ancestry.com. Ancestry, recently purchased by private-equity behemoth Blackstone, shares data with a secretive Google subsidiary that uses genomic data to develop lifespan-extending therapies. In addition, the wife of Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, is the cofounder and CEO of DNA testing company 23andMe. Wojcicki is also the sister of the CEO of Google-owned YouTube, Susan Wojcicki.
Google and the majority of VCI’s backers—Microsoft, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic, the Mayo Clinic, and MITRE Corporation, Change Healthcare—are also prominent members of the MITRE-run COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition. Other members of that coalition include the CIA’s In-Q-Tel and the CIA-linked data-mining firm Palantir, as well as a myriad of health-care and health-record companies. The coalition fits well with the ambitions of Google and like-minded companies that have sought to gain access to troves of American health data under the guise of combatting COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition describes itself as a public-private partnership that has enabled “the critical infrastructure to enable collaboration and shared analytics” on COVID-19 through the sharing of health-care and COVID-19 data among members. That this coalition and VCI are intimately involved with MITRE Corporation is significant, given that MITRE is a well-known, yet secretive, contractor for the US government, specifically the CIA and other intelligence agencies, which has developed Orwellian surveillance and biometric technologies, including several now focused on COVID-19.
Just three days before the public announcement of VCI’s establishment, Microsoft Healthcare and Google’s Verily announced a partnership along with MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute to share the companies’ cloud data and AI technologies with a “global network of more than 168,000 health and life sciences partners” to accelerate the Terra platform. Terra, originally developed by the Broad Institute and Verily, is an “open data ecosystem” focused on biomedical research, specifically the fields of cancer genomics, population genetics, and viral genomics. The biomedical data Terra amasses includes not only genetic data but also medical-imaging, biometric signals, and electronic health records. Google, through its partnership with the Pentagon, which was announced last September, has moved to utilize the analysis of such data in order to “predictively diagnose” diseases such as cancer and COVID-19. US military contractors, such as Advanced Technology International, have been developing wearables that would apply that AI-driven predictive diagnosis technology to COVID-19 diagnoses.
Predictive COVID-19 diagnosis is also an ambition of another company that backs VCI, Salesforce. Salesforce is one of three companies that created COVID 360, which Salesforce senior vice president Bob Vanstraelen describes as a “free full Coronavirus treatment solution for patients and citizens at risk” that is hosted on Salesforce Health Cloud and was by Deloitte’s Israel branch and the Israeli intelligence-linked AI firm Diagnostic Robotics. COVID 360 uses the Diagnostic Robotics clinical-predictions platform and applies it to COVID-19 so that “government agencies or caretakers” can identify individuals “in proximity to a potential positive coronavirus case” and mandate coronavirus testing and/or treatment regimes, based on a risk profile generated by COVID 360. Diagnostic Robotics and Salesforce are both members of the MITRE-run COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition.
Salesforce founder, chair, and CEO Marc Benioff was previously a vice president at Oracle. Oracle, another VCI backer, was created as a spin-off of a CIA project of the same name, and its top executives have close ties to the outgoing Trump administration and also to Israel’s government. While Benioff’s pre-Salesforce history to a CIA-linked company like Oracle is significant, Benioff’s close ties to the World Economic Forum also deserve greater scrutiny.
Benioff is not only a member of the WEF’s board of trustees, but he is also the inaugural chair of the forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a “revolution” that its architect and WEF founder Klaus Schwab defines as a merging of humans’ physical, digital, and biological identities. Benioff is also the owner and cochair of Time magazine, which recently ran an entire issue focused on promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the WEF-backed Great Reset.
Benioff also serves on the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, a collaboration between the Vatican and oligarchs to create a “more inclusive, sustainable and trusted economic system” for the twenty-first century. Alongside Benioff on the council are well-known figures such as Lynn Forester de Rothschild (close associate of Jeffrey Epstein and the Clintons), Mark Carney (UN special envoy for Climate Action and former Governor of the Bank of England), and William Lauder (executive chairman of Estée Lauder, nephew of Mega Group member Ronald Lauder) as well as the top executives of MasterCard, Visa, Dupont, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, BP, and Bank of America. Also present are the heads of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.
Benioff and others mentioned in this article are perfect examples of the cross-pollination between groups of oligarchs and their associated foundations and organizations and how these networks are working together to pursue a common agenda. While the push for combining digital identity with vaccination records and economic activity appears, superficially, to be the effort of various organizations and groups, the same individuals and entities appear time and again, pointing to a coordinated push to not only implement such a system but manufacture consent for such a system among the global population.
The effort to manufacture consent for an all-encompassing digital identification system is notable given that its main selling point thus far has been coercion. We have been told that without such a system we will never be able to return to work or school, never be able to travel, or never be allowed to participate normally in the economy. While this system is being introduced in this way, it is essential to point out that coercion is a built-in part of this infrastructure and, if implemented, will be used to modify human behavior to great effect, reaching far beyond just the issue of COVID-19 vaccines.
BY WHITNEY WEBB JANUARY 15, 2021