The government of Saskatchewan is already backing away from a proposed digital identity scheme. The province started searching for a digital identity partner in October, and was making plans to move forward with the project as recently as March of this year.
However, the province has now decided to suspend those efforts for the immediate future. In doing so, administrators cited public concerns about privacy, and the potential price tag that would be associated with such a large program.
Of those, the high cost seems to be the more pressing factor. The government is hoping that digital IDs will make it easier for residents to access online services, but it has stressed that the IDs would not be mandatory, and that people would need to opt into the digital identity program. There has also been modest support amongst the general public, with 53 percent of the respondents in a recent poll expressing positive interest in digital IDs.
Unfortunately, a full-scale digital ID program is expected to cost millions of dollars, all of which would come from public coffers at the expense of taxpayers. Meanwhile, provinces like Alberta and Ontario are already advancing their own digital identity schemes, and Saskatchewan believes that it can learn from its neighbors before committing significant funds to a major digital transformation project.
“We just thought we’ve got an opportunity here to review what other governments are doing with this, and so we decided not to proceed right now,” said Minister Jim Reiter, who oversees the SaskBuilds project. Reiter indicated that Saskatchewan will observe digital ID rollouts in other parts of Canada, and could revisit its own digital ID program somewhere down the line, though he did not offer any concrete timeline in that regard.
The Saskatchewan IDs would have verified people’s identities with facial recognition, and backed it up with liveness detection whenever people tried to access their accounts online. The province is a member of the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), which has published a Pan-Canadian Trust Framework for digital IDs.
Source: Regina Leader-Post