Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 7 June 2021 by

Australia

The Australian government is exploring extending the digital identity program to online age verification to access things such as pornography.

The federal government has responded to a report on age verification for online wagering and online pornography, saying it is considering, at least in principle, if the nation’s digital identity system could be extended to help with protecting children from online harms.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs closed its inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography last year, tabling a report in February 2020.

Making a total of six recommendations, the committee asked the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to extend its digital identity programme to include an age-verification exchange for the purpose of third-party online age verification. This was despite the eSafety Commissioner saying on many occasions there are no “out-of-the-box technology solutions” that would solve this issue and it is her opinion that age verification should not be seen as a panacea.

In response to the recommendation, the government said it supports it in principle.

“Initially, the government’s priority will be to complete work underway that explores the potential for changes to the policy and accreditation framework … depending upon the findings of this work, further technical interventions may be required,” it said, as per ZDnet.

“If so, the government agrees that the Digital Transformation Agency is well placed to explore extending the digital identity program.”

Canada

The Government of Canada has launched the latest iteration of its digital strategy, which includes a continued effort to introduce secure digital identities for citizens.

In the foreword to the Digital Operations Strategic Plan (DOSP) 2021–2024, which was released last week, CIO Marc Brouillard said that the COVID-19 pandemic has “significantly accelerated the global shift to online services” and praised civil servants’ efforts.

However, Brouillard said, the government needs to go even further to make digital services as seamless as possible. Alongside creating a single digital identity for citizens, other plans include Shared Services Canada (SSC) working to consolidate departments’ networks with a wholesale shift to “cloud-first networks”.

“To make digital government a reality in an unpredictable environment, we in the GC must modernise how we manage technology and technological change to keep government responsive and resilient so that it meets the changing needs and expectations of Canadians and Canadian businesses,” he said.

Canada

Elsewhere, the Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) has boosted its membership.

The DIACC has welcomed Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, City of Toronto, Deloitte, the Province of Quebec, and VISA as new members.

“Today, more than ever before, our communities, our businesses, and our citizens are looking to the leaders within the DIACC to help deliver a robust, secure, trusted digital ID ecosystem that works for all Canadians. Our economy depends on it,” sais David Nikolejsin, chair of the DIACC Board.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new cohort of public and private sector members to the DIACC,” said Joni Brennan, DIACC president.

“With over 100 members including the government of Canada, provincial governments, municipal governments, financial institutions, telcos, technology companies, consulting companies, SMEs, academic partners, international organisations, and non-profits, the DIACC is Canada’s largest and most inclusive community of digital ID leaders.”

Togo

Togo is preparing for the launch of its national biometric ID scheme with an awareness-raising campaign. The Ministry of Digital Economy and Digital Transformation is recruiting a consultant to create the communication strategy for the rollout, reports Togo First, the national investment promotion agency. The campaign is due to begin in time for the opening of registration for civil registry.

The country is hoping to create a national register including biometrics for verification for public and private services. The government plans to rollout biometric digital ID cards this year.

Togo’s ID scheme is supported through WURI, the World Bank’s West Africa Unique Identification for Regional Integration and Inclusion project. It is worth almost $400 million and focuses on ECOWAS states including Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

Slovenia

To expand the use of digital Covid certificates once they enter into force, the government is expanding the number of points where residents will be able to get their digital identity, according to Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik.

In addition to administrative units, these points will include vaccination centres, social work centres, the Financial Administration and other points.

Koritnik said that residents who do not have digital identity should visit one of the registration points, where they would be identified by means of a valid identification document with a photograph.

The SIGENCA and SMSPASS certificates will be free of charge for citizens, he said, adding that digital identity would enable them to access the national portal zVem.

In addition to certificates of convalescence, vaccination and PCR test results, the portal enables access to other health information about individuals and a series of other public administration services, said Health Minister Janez Poklukar.

Cayman Islands

Proposal for a digital identity register and national ID cards is to go before Parliament in 2021.

At the Cayman Islands Digital Economy Conference, Ian Tibbetts, director for e-government, said the “bills and regulations are being drafted for the various consultations with the aim of going to Parliament later this year”.

In addition to making government services more accessible and efficient, Tibbetts said, the online identity register aims to give Caymanians and residents more control of their personal data.

The information will be kept to the minimum needed to distinguish individuals on the register. This will include the full name, date of birth and place of birth in combination with a national ID number, photo and possibly a signature.

Tibbetts said one of the benefits of the system would be to help prove one’s immigration status, which for Caymanians “is not always the easiest thing”.

“The portal and a mobile app that’s linked to it will be your gateway to access and manage your data, and data of any dependants you may have. And to see which entities have access to the data, [and for you] to access government services, and ultimately to apply for the national ID card.”

Europe

The European Union has confirmed plans to introduce an EU-wide digital wallet that would securely store payment details and passwords and allow citizens from all 27 countries to log into local government websites or pay utility bills using a single recognised identity.

The EU-wide app, which can be accessed via fingerprint or retina scanning among other methods, will also serve as a vault where users can store official documents such as a driver’s licence.

Using the wallet will reportedly not be compulsory, but citizens who chose to sign up would benefit from an extra-secure digital ecosystem and greater flexibility ideal for post-pandemic life.

EU officials will also force a structural separation preventing companies which access user data from using it for any other commercial activity, such as marketing new products.

Brussels is engaged in discussions with member states to provide guidelines on technical standards for the rollout of the digital wallet, which is expected to be fully operational in about a year.

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