The Canadian government has quietly announced plans to pursue a digital ID program at the national level.
The announcement came by way of a document announcing the Government of Canada’s “Digital Ambition”. Announced by Mona Fortier, the President of the Treasury Board, the document is credited to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and is aimed at fulfilling the Chief Information Officer of Canada’s responsibility to lay out an annual plan laying out an information technology and cybersecurity trajectory across a three-year time horizon.
As such, it is a broad-reaching document, touching on range of topics including pertaining to digital government services. But a central theme is the need for a unified digital identity program.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for government services to be accessible and flexible in the digital age,” the document explains. “The next step in making services more convenient to access is a federal Digital Identity Program, integrated with pre-existing provincial platforms. Digital identity is the electronic equivalent of a recognized proof-of-identity document (for example, a driver’s license or passport) and confirms that ‘you are who you say you are’ in a digital context.”
To that end, the document notes that the Government of Canada is taking a number of steps including the development of a “Digital Identity Program” to facilitate online transactions with the government. The document also states that the government “will use an information-centric security model that is supported by a trusted digital identity” to guard Government of Canada devices and systems against cyberthreats.
Multiple Canadian provinces have already begun exploring their own digital ID programs, though it has also started to become a politically contentious issue among some groups that perceive digital ID as a sign of government overreach and intrusion into citizens’ privacy. The Canadian Bankers Association, meanwhile, called for the creation of a federated digital identity program earlier this year, echoing the World Economic Forum.
Source: Government of Canada