Sense and Sensibility in COVID-19 medical credentials

Authors Georgy Ishmaev, Roderick Noordhoek, Marlies van Steenbergen, Nadia Vermaes
Publication date 6 April 2021
Research groups Digital Ethics
Type Other


This white paper is presented by the Ethics Working Group of the uNLock Consortium This white paper presents findings of the Ethics Working Group, from the conceptual phase of investigation into the ethical issues of the uNLock solution, providing identity management solutions for sharing and presentation of medical COVID-19 credentials (test results) in the context of healthcare institutions. We have provided an outline of direct and indirect stakeholders for the uNLock solution and mapped values, benefits, and harms to the respective stakeholders. The resulting conceptual framework has allowed us to lay down key norms and principles of Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) in the specific context of uNLock solution. We hope that adherence to these norms and principles could serve as a groundwork for anticipatory mitigation of moral risk and hazards stemming from the implementation of uNLock solution and similar solutions. Our findings suggest that even early stage of conceptual investigation in the framework of Value Sensitive Design (VSD), reveals numerous ethical issues. The proposed implementation of the uNLock app in the healthcare context did not proceed further than prototype stage, thus our investigation was limited to the conceptual stage, and did not involve the practical implementation of VSD method involving translation of norms and values into engineering requirements. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that the implementation of VSD method in this context is a promising approach that helps to identify moral conflicts and risks at a very early stage of technological development of SSI solutions. Furthermore, we would like to stress that in the light of our findings it became painfully obvious that hasty implementation of medical credentials system without thorough ethical assessment, risks creating more ethical issues rather than addressing existing ones.

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Language English
Key words Value Sensitive Design, Self Sovereign Identity (SSI)