This article was originally published on April 5, 2019.
You may be hearing or reading more lately about digital identity, which is on its way to becoming a part of Canadians’ lives.
Simply put, digital ID is a way to verify who we are both online and offline in a manner that safeguards personal information. But what will it mean for you? Read on.
What is digital identity?
Digital ID is a way to verify who we are online securely in a manner which safeguards personal information. In practice, digital ID is an extension of current physical ID documents such as driver’s licences, passports and bank cards, but with features that enable data protection and control over how information is used and shared, while at the same time eliminating cyber security threats associated with physical ID documents (such as identity theft and counterfeiting). It is the evolution of the physical credential to suit new uses and needs of consumers in today’s digital economy.
Digital IDs could be issued by governments or also by private-sector organizations such as financial institutions.
Is my social media login a digital ID?
A social media login is an example of soft digital ID, a form of authentication that allows users to assert their identities through information like passwords. These identities don’t offer secure enough data protection to handle high value transactions or government identification. Digital IDs would offer the best of both worlds: the security of a passport or a driver’s licence, and the ease-of-use of a social media login.
Why are people talking about digital ID more these days?
As Canada’s digital economy continues to develop, the need to verify our identities online securely and conveniently has become a challenge. Current forms of online identity verification, including social media logins, aren’t secure or credible enough for use in situations where high value or risk are present. New forms of identification are necessary to access the full benefits of digital-based commerce, and policy conversations are crucial in determining an effective implementation of these technologies.
How does digital ID ensure data protection?
One of the ways a digital ID could protect personal information is through data abstraction—the replacement of sensitive private identifiers with less risky information. For example, “tokens” consisting of randomly generated numbers could take the place of names, addresses or account numbers, allowing people to share information securely while reducing the risk of fraud or identity theft.
How will my personal data be used when I get my digital ID?
Digital ID would give consumers greater choice over how their personal data is stored and used. For example, if a user moves to a new province and wants to transfer their medical file from their old physician to their new one, digital ID would enable them to share only the data they deem appropriate while keeping the rest private.
Could digital ID make identity theft easier?
Digital ID would involve the transmission of abstracted data rather than sensitive personal identifiers. This would prevent perpetrators from intercepting users’ information.
When is digital ID coming?
Steps are already being taken to prepare for digital ID. In some instances, governments have adopted limited versions of digital IDs that people can use to access public services. Interac is currently working with public and private partners to find ideal applications for digital ID solutions.