Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 5 December 2022 by Christine Horton


Denmark

Stores and doctors in Denmark want politicians to look into the possibility of digital age checks for purchasing alcohol.

A range of professional organisations and interest groups for doctors and businesses proposed digital IDs as a requirement to buy alcohol in a joint letter published by newspaper Berlingske.

When an alcoholic beverage is scanned, checkout staff would automatically be alerted to an ID requirement, under the proposal.

If the customer uses their debit card (Dankort) to pay, a digital system would be able to check with the person’s bank whether they are over 18 years old, and reject the purchase of they are not.

The model would not completely prevent underage purchases because it could be circumvented by using cash or another person’s card.

Malaysia

Malaysian state Selangor has announced a new initiative called ‘Digital ID’ in the Selangor Budget 2023, a digital identity system that can be used to access various public services.

With a Selangor Digital ID, residents can access services provided by the state government. It doesn’t require them to register for different digital IDs for various services, as one is enough.

The implementation of this digital identity system is expected to start in 2023. It would be the first plan that gets carried out to ensure that Selangor continues to progress in various service implementations and operate efficiently by 2025.

The Cayman Islands

Opposition leader Roy McTaggart has requested the Cayman Islands government withdraw two bills, according to the Cayman Compass.

The Identification Register Bill 2022 and the Identification Card Bill aim to create, respectively, a digital identity register and a system to issue ID cards to improve the way residents interact with the government and businesses and reduce red tape.

The bills are scheduled for discussion in parliament next week, but McTaggart believes the public should have more time to give their feedback before the parliamentary session takes place. Cabinet approved both draft bills in November and opened them to public comment.

The upcoming national identification card and digital ID register project will cost roughly 8 million Cayman Islands Dollars (approximately US$9.6 million) and will be developed over the course of five years.

United States

The General Services Administration is adding anti-fraud measures to its sign-on and identity service, Login.gov, in an effort to prevent account takeovers, according to a November 21 notice in the Federal Register.

But at least one privacy advocate is raising concerns about the agency’s use of a contractor service to monitor user data.

Login.gov is using LexisNexis Risk Solutions for the fraud detection services, according to a September GSA privacy impact assessment. The fraud prevention systems will gather input about a given device – like IP address, browser type and usage patterns, such as keyboard and mouse behaviour – when someone accesses their Login.gov account.

LexisNexis services will also provide “risk scores” associated with the device, as well as what name, address and other identity information has been associated with that device previously.

Uganda

The committee on Defence and Internal Affairs is considering investigating a new firm contracted by the Government to print smart and digital national identity cards.

In 2018, the government entered into a joint venture with Veridos, a German company to set up a printing facility for digital identity documents for a period of 15 years. This comes after the expiry of the contract of Muhlbauer High Tech International, another German firm that was hired in 2010 to set up the ID printing system that is currently being used by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) to print national IDs.

While meeting officials from Muhlbauer High Tech International led by the firm’s VP, Matthias Karl Kohler, the defence committee chairperson, Rosemary Nyakikongoro, reportedly asked why the government is investing in new ID machinery yet there is one that is still operational. “Why would government invest in this machinery, abandon it and go for another one? If they said Veridos is printing from here [in Uganda], do they have a factory here? So it is up to us [MPs] to get interested in finding out how far and how capable they are to do mass enrolment for the IDs,” Nyakikongoro said.

Global

New research from digital identity verification platform Trulioo shows that 87 percent of online marketplace leaders view identity verification as critical to protecting consumers and building trust during unpredictable times. Those respondents also overwhelmingly see identity verification as more than just a single step during onboarding, with 90 percent saying it should be continuous throughout the customer journey.

The report, Wary Customers Seek Reassurance From Online Marketplaces, reveals that consumers want online brands to do more to protect them against fraud and identity theft. It found that for 73 percent of consumers, online security is a bigger consideration than it was three years ago.

The research also found:

  • 57 percent of consumers are more tolerant of identity verification
  • 85 percent say online brands that invest in the best identity verification show they care about their customers
  • 75 percent of online marketplace leaders acknowledge digital trust has eroded during the past three years and consumers are on higher alert
  • 58 percent of those marketplace respondents report their organization added more identity verification steps to adapt quickly to fraud and cybercrime threats

Serbia

Serbia’s Social Card law has been called an “intrusive surveillance system” that could harm marginalised members of society, particularly Roma communities.

The claims come from human rights organization Amnesty International, which submitted a legal opinion earlier this week as part of a review of the constitutionality of the law that came into effect in March, reports Biometric Update.

The legislation established a centralised government database processing 130 categories of personal data to assess the eligibility of those applying for social security support. The rules should enable a fair allocation of funds for the disadvantaged. Still, Amnesty finds that its application reflects an “invasive digital surveillance system that threatens the right to equality.”

For instance, people with disabilities or members of the Roma community tend to have the lowest incomes in Serbia. Amnesty claims the Social Card law de facto excludes them from the financial support system, further exacerbating their living conditions.

This exclusion, Amnesty adds, is completely automated and through algorithms that have not been publicly disclosed.

The human rights group is calling for a halt to the rollout of the Social Card law to allow for a full assessment of whether the rules comply with Serbia’s obligations under international human rights law.

Myanmar

Similarly, the Myanmar government has been criticised for using the country’s identity card system to persecute, exclude and surveil the Muslim ethnic Rohingya community.

According to a Thomson Reuters report, human rights groups have criticised once again the issuance of a separate ID to the Rohingya minority that eventually classed them as illegal immigrants in their own country.

The National Verification Cards (NVCs), first issued by Suu Kyi’s civilian government almost a decade ago, were initially deemed necessary for security purposes and to enable holders to apply for citizenship.

However, over the last eight years, the IDs were exploited by officials and security forces to actively persecute Rohingya minorities, says Kyaw Win, director of the London-based Burma Human Rights Network.

Further, individuals who fled the country and found shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh were reportedly also subjected to surveillance technologies. Aid agencies who captured refugees’ face, fingerprint and iris biometrics for food rationing purposes reportedly shared the data with Bangladeshi authorities which, in turn, passed the information to the Myanmar government.

The country’s administration has also recently expanded its biometric technologies efforts by deploying new 4-4-2 MORPHS fingerprint scanners from Mantra Softech for bordered control applications.

Thailand

The Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) in Thailand is using technology integrator Counter Service to create a new channel to verify and issue digital IDs for citizens.

Identity verification systems will be placed at all 7-Eleven convenience store counters.

Verification will require users to download an app and scan a QR code after presenting their ID to a 7-Eleven clerk. After verifying their identity, customers will receive a text confirming their digital ID is active.

DGA confirmed all information transferred as part of this process is encrypted, sent directly to DGA and never stored locally at the convenience store.

After verification, Thais will be able to access government services including child support subsidies, credit bureau services, vehicle registration information and pension contributions.

Israel

Fujitsu has announced plans to set up a research centre for data and security in Israel as part of efforts to strengthen its Research and Development (R&D) strategy as well as increase its presence in the country.

The centre will reportedly go operational from April 2023. It will based in Tel Aviv, and bring together about 10 research experts from Israel, Japan and Europe and their work will be focused on improving security technology for communications networks as part of its global strategy for data and security – a key area in its global R&D strategy.

United Kingdom / Ukraine

The UK and Ukraine have agreed a digital trade deal which is intended to help the Ukrainian economy and future recovery by focusing on the countries’ digital output. The Digital Trade Agreement (DTA) includes provision for collaboration on digital identity, similar to the UK’s previous DTA with Singapore.

The agreement is the first of its kind for Ukraine and only the second for the UK. “Trading digitally is particularly important in the current conflict, where damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and warfare makes it much harder to trade physically,” stated the UK’s Department for International Trade.

Turks and Caicos

The Turks and Caicos government will deploy the digital ID and National Identification Cards for residents by 2025, reports Magnetic Media, via Biometric Update. The announcement was made by deputy premier and finance minister Erwin Jay Saunders at a town hall meeting last week.

According to the politician, the project for the design of the national ID has already gone out to tender, and the budget for the consultation of that project has already been approved. An unnamed UK company is helping the government with the digital ID aspects of the project. The design tender closes on January 11.

Saunders also confirmed that the new digital ID and paper counterpart would be available to all Turks and Caicos residents, including individuals living in the country on a work permit.