The government of Canada’s most populous province has revealed more details about a mobile ID system that could launch as early as this year.
The Ontario government’s plans came to light earlier this year when it put out a request for public comment regarding plans for a digital identity program aimed at providing Ontarians with a secure and convenient means of accessing online services. Now, it’s becoming clear that mobile ID will be a major – if not the major – component of this effort.
The government has revealed that the planned digital ID system will allow end users to upload a virtual version of a government ID, such as a driver’s license or a health card, into a digital wallet app on a mobile device. The digital ID data will be stored locally, on-device, and not in a remote database, helping to ensure citizens’ privacy and data are kept secure.
The mobile ID will be accepted as an official form of identification, and the provincial government envisions a number of potential use cases, including age verification for the purchase of restricted goods like lottery tickets, identity verification of new employees at a business, online access to medical records; opening a bank accounts, and more.
The latest news concerning Ontario’s digital ID effort arrive at a time of growing excitement about mobile ID technology, with Apple having announced its own plans for a mobile driver’s license and state ID solution that will be accepted by TSA authorities at airports.
With respect to Ontario’s planned mobile ID, some questions remain on the issue of security. The government has indicated that interested individuals will be able to sign up for the digital ID online when it becomes available and that user consent must be acquired before any information is shared using the mobile ID, but it hasn’t indicated what kind of identity verification and authentication mechanisms will be in play. For its part, Apple has revealed that selfie-based face biometrics will be used for onboarding on its own mobile ID platform, and that biometric authentication via Face ID or Touch ID fingerprint scanning will be required for access to a mobile ID.
Notably, the Ontario government has just launched a vaccine passport program for the province requiring individuals to show a COVID-19 vaccination receipt in order to access certain businesses and facilities. While paper documents are accepted, digital versions of the vaccine passport are available, which may help to familiarize Ontarians with mobile ID technology ahead of the rollout of the government’s more comprehensive mobile ID platform later this year.