ICAO releases global list of public keys to support seamless digital health pass authentication

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has published its first Health Master List to support “more efficient and secure authentication for traveller health certificates, including vaccination and test certificates”.

 International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) logo

 The ICAO has created the list in partnership with Luxembourg’s Incert digital security agency to enable border authorities, airlines and other aviation stakeholders to more easily authenticate the different Covid-19 health passes issued by national or regional administrations across the globe by making available the public keys required to verify the digitally signed barcodes that the majority of such documents contain.

All public keys included on the list have been signed by the ICAO and are publicly available via the organisation’s website.

The list will be regularly updated as and when more health passes are issued, “irrespective of the specific format of the proof or the existing systems used for authentication of the proof”, the ICAO says.

“The presentation of documentation related to Covid-19 health interventions has become commonplace since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many states originally issued health proofs appropriate for domestic and/or regional use cases,” ICAO secretary general Juan Carlos Salazar explains.

“The result was a variety of different national or regional formats being deployed, and proliferating travel restrictions due to low levels of confidence among state border, immigration and health authorities in the validity of travellers’ health documents.”

“The Health Master List concept is based on the same principles as the generic ICAO Master List now used to verify electronic travel documents. It will complement existing national and/or regional solutions and provide an essential international mechanism for sharing public keys in line with WHO recommendations.”

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