With 8 in 10 Canadians already in support of digital identity, and the threat of cyberattacks on a meteoric rise, now is the time to decentralize digital identity technology both for the public and private sector, a recent report by ATB Ventures revealed.
A future that relies on digital credentials, the report says, first needs citizens that are able to trust that their personal information is protected and that their digital credentials are under their control.
Building trust in digital identity amidst rising cyber threats firstly comes down to a user experience that is truly trustworthy, explained Chandra Rink, managing director, product & IP at ATB. That, she said, depends on the following factors:
- Ensuring individuals have full control over their personal data. The company, for instance, endorses a “Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)” model, which is designed to reduce unintentional or undesigned sharing of personal data, ensuring that users can choose what data to share and with whom.
- Regulatory oversight to ensure digital identity systems meet high privacy and security standards. In Canada, bodies like the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) help achieve this in digital identity solutions.
- Consistency in the data-privacy language and approach used across the public and private sectors to make data protection more accessible to consumers.
Businesses in particular, she added, have a key role to play in building trust in digital identity, notably in detailing their specific data practices and educating users on how their data is stored, used and protected.
“Businesses that invest in digital identity systems are sending a clear message about their commitment to safeguarding customer data, which in turn, cultivates trust,” said Rink. “The consistency of this safeguarding – which is established every time they interact with their customers – grows loyalty and confidence over time. Consumers are ultimately reassured by consistency over time – a value proposition digital identity offers.”
Offering a better customer experience through digital identity platforms can also drive trust, while enhancing compliance and reducing cost, especially for businesses where account creation is the highest entry point of consumer risk, the report noted.
Further, the government needs to quickly implement digital identity verification capabilities to foster trust among citizens, the report stressed. The technology, it added, is tasked to enable Canadians to use a single, proven identity across multiple public services, and at the same time reduce costs by eliminating the need for manual data entry and verification processes.
Canada currently ranks 7th in digital competitiveness, according to a 2021 World Economic Forum (WEF) report. That, the ATB report noted, indicates that “we have the potential to become a leader in the digital world but we aren’t there yet.”
Canada’s privacy laws are weaker than those in other G20 countries, and 72 per cent of Canadian companies currently allow third parties to access the data they collect from citizens, the report shows. Additionally, there are still approximately 32.1 million registered paper-based IDs in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.
Rink explained, “Canadian digital competitiveness will reside within its ability to support safe online transactions. This safety is propelled through consistent, value-add (digital identity-enabled) experiences for citizens; the practice of pan-Canadian trust standards across sectors; and a focus on enabling citizen-centered data ownership and agency.”
She added, “Learning from leading digital nations (while tailoring solutions to Canadian privacy needs) can expedite the progress through mirroring education and messaging for citizens which is simple, clear, and focused on their agency and data ownership.”