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Ontarians will be able to use their digital ID cards to open bank accounts, apply for government programs, access vaccination records and more

The Toronto Star | | Nov 18, 2021

Ontario digtial ID - Ontarians will be able to use their digital ID cards to open bank accounts, apply for government programs, access vaccination records and more

The program, now delayed until 2022, will give Ontarians access to an electronic version of their government ID — including driver’s licences and health cards — that can be stored on their mobile devices.

The province says physical IDs will still be issued and accepted but Ontarians will also be able to use digital cards on a voluntary basis to open bank accounts, pick up packages at the post office, apply for government assistance, access vaccination records and more.

The digital ID program was announced in October 2020 as part of a broader strategy to improve Ontarians’ access to government services during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Verify Ontario, the proof-of-vaccination app the province launched earlier this year.

See:  Digital Identity Sins

Since the announcement, the province has held a series of roundtable consultations with businesses and think tanks to discuss and develop program standards. But the digital ID took a back seat to the development of Verify Ontario, delaying the program’s release to 2022.

The province, which is partnering with the private sector to develop the technology, says the ID program will not rely on a central database or tracking measures that could breach the privacy and security of personal information.

The identification data is supposed to be protected with strong encryption software and the ability to disconnect the ID card if the device is ever lost or stolen.

While digitization can consolidate key government documents for personal convenience, experts warn it can also present new-found security hazards and equity concerns.

Ann Cavoukian, a digital privacy expert who formerly served as Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner, says the province will need to ensure the digital ID program does not rely on a centralized data system.

“The concern around a central database is that it can be subject to hacking, phishing and all kinds of unauthorized access if it’s not well protected,” Cavoukian said.

Ontarians’ physical identification card data is presently dispersed among ministries, from health to transportation. If that data is consolidated, Cavoukian says more personal information is at risk in the event of a security breach.

See: 

Liquid Avatar Technologies Supports Ontario’s Approach to Technology and Standards for Digital Identity

Digital Identity Should Be A Big Business For Banks

According to provincial statistics, as many as 700,000 households and businesses still lack access to adequate broadband speeds or have no access at all. Ontarians in rural areas, particularly in Northern Ontario, are less likely to have substantive internet access.

In a survey of Ontarians, only 17 per cent said they were ready to adopt a digital ID card immediately. Nearly 80 per cent said they would opt into the program over the next five to six years.

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