Canada envisions digital ID system


Canada's Interac organisation is developing a new digital identity model for Canadians aiming towards digitization of commerce in all forms.

In a blog post written by Kirkland Morris, vice-president, enterprise strategy, at Interac, he outlined plans to create digital ID solutions for payments and government services.

"By expanding and improving on current collaborative standards for digital identity, we can build a secure, reliable and privacy-enhancing digital identity and authentication ecosystem for all Canadians. This would be an important advancement for individuals, governments, businesses and any organization where there is a reliance on trusted relationships".

"With innovative technology, security in the digital identification system will be enforced through data abstraction, replacing each person’s private identifiers (like a driver’s licence number) with unique public identifiers that prove their identity without revealing any information about the foundational documents they possess."

He adds that when widely adopted, the system would allow individuals to move beyond the patchwork quilt of paper-based and scattered on-line personal verifications that proliferate for Canadians today. The verification of individuals’ identities would be simplified, while at the same time offering seamless and consistent access to the many services, transactions and agreements in our lives that currently require government-issued physical identification.

"Wherever there is a requirement for physical ID to be presented and verified today, a digital identification solution can help. It would make both the large and smaller transactions in our lives easier, more secure and more convenient—from making a real estate purchase or obtaining a mortgage, to renewing a passport or applying for government services".

He also notes that organizations would no longer have to choose between trust or convenience, or invent their own ways of identifying and verifying their customers. Individuals would not have to create new identifiers out of thin air for every new service they engage with. With the right national solution, the same methods could apply across these relationships, to everything and everyone Canadians do business with, across both private and public sectors.

"A modern digital ID system would have at its core advanced technical elements that would also eliminate some of the security shortcomings we face today. Insecure methods of identification open the door to both identity theft—the incidence of which has been growing at an average of 33 per cent a year over the past three years— and identity fraud, which is now regularly costing Canadian businesses an estimated $200 million-plus per year, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre".

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