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UK, Canadian digital identity initiatives focus on technology and its implications

UK, Canadian digital identity initiatives focus on technology and its implications

The UK and Canadian governments have unveiled new digital identity milestones, as the technology takes hold across many countries amid increasing digitization and online interaction.

UK government unveils One Login updates

The UK government has published a new blog post with updates regarding its vision of a single digital identity to be used by citizens to access all governmental services.

According to the new data, which is based on a survey of 720 individuals, 61 percent responded positively when asked about sharing their information with the government.

Many of them also already assumed they had a comprehensive ‘government’ account that held data on them and enabled access to those services.

In addition, the data unveiled a need for users to have visibility and control of the information that the government holds on them and how it is shared.

While inclusion and accessibility are the main issues to be tackled in this regard, the UK government said it has so far completed more than 150 research and engagement sessions with teams across the government to this end.

Initial results have shown that roughly 70 percent of overall traffic to Gov.uk is now via mobile, with users looking at simplified ways to access governmental services online.

To this end, the UK government is building an identity checking app that will use NFC and face biometrics via smartphone to allow individuals to prove their identity in under ten minutes.

The solution is scheduled for initial release by April 2022 via a partnership with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

A tender was opened in October with a $6.6 million budget for the Gov.uk digital identity app.

Government of Canada partners with EU on digital ID

The move was announced by Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne.

In particular, Champagne said the Government of Canada and the European Commission will now work together to explore the use of digital credentials.

The early stages of this collaboration took part via a series of workshops focusing on examining the current technology and policy landscapes of both jurisdictions in regards to digital IDs, identifying areas of commonality and gaps that need to be addressed, and enabling interoperability.

The results of these workshops are now publicly available, and Champagne said the Canadian and EU governments will work to address the recommendations in the report, collaborating further on the future of digital identity, with a notable emphasis on concepts like the verifiable credentials data model and decentralized identifiers (DIDs).

The news of the partnership comes amidst a substantial push of digital ID technologies in Canada, with the government issuing a tender notice inviting industry engagement to improve its biometric immigration system last October among other moves.

Privsec webinar discusses government, private sector collaborations

A webinar organized by GRC World Forums’s privacy-focused branch Privsec explores the state of digital identity application across Australia, the UK, and South Africa.

In particular, the online event saw discussions of topics including the need for digital identity schemes, the use of biometric ID systems, and what the future collaboration of the public and private sector will look like to advance these technologies.

During the webinar, Hans Graux, partner at Time.Lex, talked about the eurocentric view of digital ID, and how the existing framework within the Union is supporting joint efforts in joint ID schemes, not only among countries but also between public and private sectors.

Jeff Jockisch, data privacy researcher and CEO of PrivacyPlan, added to the conversation by claiming that both the private and public sectors want to control identity because its applications are very valuable.

According to Jockisch, over one billion people around the world still do not have any form of valid digital ID, and that is why many developing countries are now stepping up efforts in that direction.

Still, in the pursuit of this goal, Jockisch believes it is paramount to keep in mind a self-sovereign model of digital ID which is decentralized, along the lines Canada is pursuing, which in turn would aid individuals to keep control over their own data and how they share it.

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