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Funding announced for Canada’s Digital Identity Laboratory, IBM passport project


identity document and smartphone

The Digital Identity Laboratory of Canada (IDLab) has announced the reception of several grants from the public and private sectors.

The fresh funds include investments from Accenture, Deloitte, Interac Corp, and KPMG as well as a C$1.5 million (roughly US$950,000) non-repayable contribution from Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec. The private-sector funding partners will also support IDLab’s mission with thought leadership, according to the announcement.

IDLab made the announcement last Friday, with the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, saying the Canadian Government will aid IDLab’s efforts in interoperability advancement, knowledge, jobs, and infrastructure.

“Through our support for the Digital Identity Laboratory of Canada we are helping businesses to protect themselves against cyber threats and to better position themselves in relation to global competition,” she explained.

The IDLab is an independent non-profit entity fostering the adoption of digital trust solutions by breaking down technology barriers to digital ID adoption.

“We believe that a strong Digital Identity ecosystem is critical to unlocking the digital economy in a way that both drives economic growth and protects Canadians’ privacy,” said Esther Dryburgh, Digital Identity Lead at Deloitte. “We are proud to work with the IDLab to promote interoperability, reduce technological barriers, and accelerate the adoption of these exciting digital solutions.”

IBM Canada’s virtual passport under scrutiny by privacy experts

IBM Canada has recently been awarded a C$1.5 million contract designed to allow Canadians to apply for a passport using their mobile devices and personal computers.

Now, the online digital ID application project is coming under scrutiny, as privacy advocates in the country highlight the risks posed by potentially insufficient data safeguard procedures.

According to CBC, the greatest of these risks would be related to where user information would be stored, as storing it on foreign servers could constitute an easy target for malicious actors

This could in turn translate to criminal activity related to human trafficking, as Canadian passports represent an alluring target for criminals.

“That’s very attractive for organized crime groups who specialize in human trafficking,” Benoît Dupont, a criminology professor at l’Université de Montréal and Canada Research Chair in cybersecurity, told CBC. “They will attempt to exploit the program very quickly, very intensely to obtain the most fraudulent passports they can in the least amount of time.”

The critique was echoed by The Professional Institute of the Public Services (PIPSC), who said the tender for the project should never have gone out to the private sector but instead developed in-house by public servants.

“It’s a vicious cycle. Instead of developing resources internally, we go externally,” explained Stéphane Aubry, vice-president of PIPSC. “Then we don’t have the needed expertise internally, which, unfortunately, over the years, fades and makes it so we need to contract out.”

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