According to media reports, the B.C. government is
developing a new smartphone app that will one day allow people
access to secure government websites, services and databases simply
by tapping their new Services Card to their smartphones in order to
authenticate their identity. The new chip-enabled Services Cards
recently rolled out by the B.C. government combine a driver's
licence and Care Card (health care card) in one piece of ID that
employs NFC (near field communication) technology, similar to that
in credit and debit cards.
In addition to convenience and ease of use, the government has
stated that one goal of the new Services Card is to reduce fraud in
the health care system, noting that it is estimated there are 9
million Care Cards issued in British Columbia for a population that
numbers only 4.5 million. The new mobile technology currently being
developed will also aim to make it easier for people to identify
themselves and access their records, including personal eHealth
medical records, drug prescriptions, drivers' licences, and
even online voting.
Other Efforts at Digital IDs
B.C is not alone in pursuing all-in-one identification
technology. The Manitoba government announced this year that it is
investing $13 million to allow Manitobans to receive, starting in
the fall of 2017, all-in-one Personal Identification Cards, which
will combine driver's licences, photo ID, health card and
travel ID (see our previous post
here). The Manitoba government is also aiming, with this
project, to improve access to photo ID and authentication for
low-income and homeless Manitobans.
Internationally, media reported that the U.K.'s Driver and Vehicle
Licensing Agency also announced earlier this year the development
of a digital driver's licence using Apple Wallet. The digital
driver's licence would be an "add-on" to existing
plastic driver's licences, with a view to enhancing
Improvements in identification and authentication technology are
expected to make significant improvements to everyday tasks for
Canadians. In 2014, Canadian leaders from the public sector, banks,
and tech companies came together to launch a non-profit coalition,
the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada
("DIACC"). The DIACC "is committed
in developing a Canadian digital and identification and
authentication framework to enable Canada's full and secure
participation in the global digital economy". The DIACC has
released several proof of concepts, including online proof of
residency and online opening of bank accounts, aimed at solving
real world problems with innovative solutions for commercial,
government and research purposes.
Privacy and Data Security Concerns
Along with with the improved accessibility and convenience of
these all-in-one identification solutions comes the expected
concerns regarding data security and confidentiality of personal
information. Some have also raised concerns regarding the potential
for use citizen profiling, state surveillance, and external
attacks. However, proponents of these projects note that the main
sources of identity theft and fraudulent use are often the result
of human interaction that occurs in the supply chain of such data.
It may be that reducing human activity that occurs in the issuance,
management and use of identity might make it safer. In the near
future, advances in biometric technology may incorporate these
types of features into the digital authentication systems, thereby
* Sophie Brown is an articling student in the Québec
office of McCarthy Tétrault.
The campaign aims to bring awareness to the wide scope of concerns that the term cybersecurity covers, including internet security, privacy, mobile safety, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks...
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