As Canadians increasingly look for security in the digital landscape, two major players have emerged in the conception, design, and development of Canada’s Digital ID — including one with close ties to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
There’s the private Canadian corporation Trulioo, a tech outfit with critical partners like Equifax and TransUnion, two of Canada’s biggest credit-rating agencies. It provides various verification services for governments and businesses, such as Age Verification and Know Your Customer.
It’s also affiliated with the WEF, a globalist think tank many regards with suspicion and disdain. According to its website, Trulioo was selected as a “technology pioneer,” meaning it will be invited to WEF events, activities and initiatives. Over the next two years, it will work “with policymakers and private sector leaders to help define the global agenda on key issues.”
There’s also the Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada, or DIACC, a non-profit coalition of private and public sector participants.
The two outfits are collaborating on the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework to build trust with Canadians.
Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne said, “The development and implementation of a digital ID ecosystem is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate how innovation and privacy protection can coexist.”
“Government should be open and transparent enough about the defined purposes of the digital identity systems, what personal information will be used, how and by whom,” the commissioner continued.
Of course, the Government of Canada also wants to streamline how it authenticates individuals to access its services securely.
Inevitably, many partners from the private sector are already contracted for consultation and development of a Digital ID. However, it’s still unclear whether a National Digital ID will emerge or whether there will be different IDs for different purposes.
It’s also possible Digital IDs will be linked to individuals’ CBDC wallets, which will inevitably arrive in the next few years. CBDCs are digital currencies countries propose to replace their current cash, coin, and digital entry systems.
Currently, there are yet to be any clear sets of standards and features that envelop Digital IDs. Yet, many potential ways Digital IDs can be developed and used in Canada to benefit Canadians remain.
The Covid-19 pandemic has moved many activities online, and with it comes the need for increased vigilance and security against risks such as fraud, scams, identity theft, and the like.
A national Digital ID could bring benefits such as eliminating the need to manage multiple passwords and increasing trust and confidence in online services if adequately designed and implemented.
Currently, authentication, a process which involves correctly identifying individuals, varies significantly across services for banking, obtaining assistance from government institutions, receiving customer support, and so on. Some are painless, while others can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Biometrics, which refers to identifying people through their unique physical attributes such as fingerprints and facial or voice recognition, is rising. But some view the practice as intrusive and don’t want their personal biometric information collected, stored, or shared between various parties.
Privacy, security, and choice figure among Canadians’ top concerns, an issue the DIACC is currently evaluating.
Canadians are distrustful of many private entities but also of government institutions. According to the Edelman 2022 Canadian Trust Barometer, only 53 % of Canadians trust government organizations.
Another primary concern is that a national Digital ID may present a barrier to international travel. For example, some worry that their vaccination status or other personal factors may hinder their mobility rights as it did during the pandemic.
A Digital ID could incorporate health documents, making things difficult for Canadians who fall outside the mainstream health narrative.
A Known Traveller Digital Identity (KDTI) pilot program was launched in 2018 by the WEF. The Government of Canada and Trudeau Montreal Airport figure as partners.
There’s still potential for Digital IDs to be used safely, but Canadians must remain attentive.
Dan Fournier is a freelance investigative journalist in Quebec, Canada.