Author: Eric Swedersky, SVP Delivery and Public Sector
Digital technology is changing our world rapidly and affects almost every aspect of our lives, from business and education, to healthcare and entertainment. As the digital revolution takes hold, more and more data is harnessed for a variety of purposes. In this environment, new regulations and policies also become necessary to ensure that innovation continues but is balanced with improved privacy frameworks for citizens.
Data-driven technology is already reshaping our lives with significant social and economic benefits. However, the newness of these technologies begets challenges and uncertainty. In a digital world, trust must become the foundation of the Canadian digital economy – especially as it pertains to digital identity proofing and data sharing. Of note, a recent survey from the Privacy Commissioner’s Office found that nearly all (92%) Canadians, while knowledgeable about their privacy rights, expressed concern about the protection of their privacy. Clearly, there is a problem.
Creating trust requires participation from all parties in the digital economy, but the federal government has a special role as a common denominator. It can establish policies and frameworks in which all other players – working towards trust together – can operate. Canadians recognize this: in a recent study commissioned by the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), three quarters (70%) of respondents felt that the best approach to creating a pan-Canadian digital ID framework lies in government and private sector collaboration.
Thankfully, Canada has a government who understands its unique role in today’s digital landscape. As part of a National Data Strategy, the Canadian federal government recently revealed its Digital Charter to implement the economy of trust where all the parties cooperate to keep data safe and protect citizens’ privacy. The 10 Principles of the Digital Charter will guide the government’s policies to address the challenges and reap the benefits of the digital revolution in Canada.
Such regulatory change in the federal government signals the importance of implementing digital verification systems thoughtfully, properly and through a holistic lens. Verified.Me, by SecureKey Technologies Inc., aligns well with the government’s goal of supporting the greater use of data in a safe and secure way. Verified.Me is the result of effective collaboration between cross-industry players and helps achieve each of the Digital Charter’s 10 Principles as follows:
- Universal access – Canadians should have access to the services that make their lives easier when they want them, no matter where they are. Verified.Me allows Canadians the choice to assert what they have, who they are and what they know in order to confidently help verify themselves with services they want. At the same time, Verified.Me allows citizens greater control over their data for sharing between parties like credit agencies and telcos, financial institutions and government, providing greater access to services, streamlining processes and saving millions in costs.
- Safety and security – Verified.Me was built with strong security protocols and developed under the guidelines of Global Privacy and Security by Design. A first-of-its-kind network, Verified.Me is built on blockchain to protect personal information from being identified, accessed or misused. The combination of financial institution and telecommunication grade credential login and document validation makes Verified.Me more secure and safe for all consumers.
- Control and consent – Verified.Me is entirely driven by user consent; at every step in the verification process, citizens are asked for their explicit consent, which is immutably recorded, and remain at the centre of every transaction. Verified.Me gives control of personal information back to citizens, and allows them to understand when, why and how their personal information is being used on the network.
- Transparency, portability and interoperability – Digital ID isn’t just a single industry or uniquely Canadian problem; the issues associated with digital ID span the globe and touch every organization. Building networks that acknowledge the problem – like Verified.Me which was built under accepted frameworks and standards – offer a secure solution and encourage collaboration between all players to achieve the same goal.
- Open and modern digital government – Verified.Me has the capability to streamline government processes, because it facilitates identity proofing with high enough assurances for sensitive transactions. It also allows immediacy of service and enables efficiency of services expected by Canadians.
- A level playing field – Verified.Me was built using an ecosystem approach, in which all parties operate on a level playing field, working toward the shared goal of more secure identity verification and data sharing.
- Data and digital for good – Verified.Me is the product of collaboration between a variety of industry players working together to build a solution that respects and protects citizens’ personal information for the benefit and betterment of all. By taking a multi-participant ecosystem approach, Verified.Me raises the bar against bad actors to help mitigate fraud and improve digital lives of its users.
- Strong democracy – Strong democracies need equally strong frameworks to maintain truth, trust and prevent the spread of disinformation. Verified.Me is designed to maintain the integrity and security of a user’s personal information, by using blockchain technology to securely and privately transfer information to trusted network participants with user consent.
- Free from hate and violent extremism – Verified.Me is a safe environment where all parties are treated equally and with the respect they deserve.
- Strong enforcement and real accountability – One of Verified.Me’s foundational principles was having a strong governance and legal framework in place to ensure that all players can be truly held accountable.
The digital landscape is changing. Only through cooperation between the private and public sectors, within frameworks and policies set by forward-looking government, will we be able to reinforce the significance of data safety for Canadians as digital transformation takes centre stage.
The digital transformation is here, and we are ready to take it on.
Learn more about the intersections between government and the latest transformations in digital transformation at IdentityNORTH Ottawa Symposium 2020 this coming April where SecureKey’s Eric Swedersky will speak on leading-edge technology innovations for all levels of government.
Register here using promo code SECUREKEY_OTT15 for a 15% discount
 2016 Survey of Canadians on Privacy, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, https://www.priv.gc.ca/en/opc-actions-and-decisions/research/explore-privacy-research/2019/por_2019_ca/
 Digital Identity Research, DIACC,
 Canada’s Digital Charter: Trust in a digital world, Government of Canada, https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/062.nsf/eng/h_00108.html