Quebec is considering the possibility of including documents issued by private companies, such as proof of insurance, in its digital identity portfolio, which is scheduled to launch in 2025.
The digital identity wallet must include identity documents issued by the Quebec government such as health insurance card, birth certificate or driver’s license. The government is in discussions with financial institutions to assess the possibility of including non-government documents.
In an interview, the Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital, Eric Caire, gives proof of automobile insurance as an example. “It is not a government document, but it is mandatory, so we want to be able in our Quebec identity system to integrate documents that are not necessarily government documents.”
The credit card could also be integrated into the digital wallet, adds Cairo. He gives the example of a consumer who buys alcohol in a convenience store. “With the convenience store terminal, you would be able to validate that you are of legal age to purchase alcohol and pay for the transaction. We would like you to be able to do both in a single gesture with your smartphone. ”
The involvement of private companies in the process adds a layer of complexity, admits the minister. In the convenience store example, the clerk must have access to information to confirm that you are of legal age and that you are the person you claim to be. However, he does not have to know your address or marital status. “There is a certain complexity, but I think we will get there.”
Mr. Caire says he is “cyberparanoid” and assures that his ministry attaches great importance to information security. “It is absolutely essential that this digital identity be extremely secure.”
Security breaches had been detected during the launch of the vaccine passport by whistleblower hackers. A group had also managed to download the vaccination passport of the Prime Minister and several elected officials.
The minister assures us that the security of digital identity will be more robust. “With the vaccination passport, the objective was to deploy it quickly, that it be simple to obtain, that it be simple to use. The digital wallet must be much more secure than the vaccination passport. We have time to do it and we have to do something that, in a safe way, must be much more protected. ”
Gallery: What People with Disabilities Would Like You To Know (Espresso)
As for fears that digital identity will allow governments to monitor citizens, Cairo says he has provided safeguards to prevent abuses. The Quebec Information Access Commission acts as a “watchdog” to prevent inappropriate use of data. “She asks great questions. It’s up to us to find the answers to ensure that we are able to create a digital identity project that will be used to identify people and not to monitor them. ”
NAS and biometrics
Asked whether the social insurance number (SIN), issued by the federal government, would be integrated into the digital wallet, Mr. Caire was less enthusiastic. “It’s a way that belongs to the 20th century. We are in the 21st century, it should start to appear. It no longer has a place today in the way of identifying someone. ”
The theft of Desjardins customer data in 2019 and the cases of fraudulent requests for the Canadian Emergency Benefit (CEP) recently demonstrated the shortcomings of the SIN, which still serves as an identifier for many financial and government services.
Minister Cairo, who is discussing the issue with his federal counterparts, would like the NAS to fall into disuse. “We can’t do this in a snap. We will have to make it over time [le NAS] less and less useful until it is completely useless. ”
Quebecers will also be able to activate their identifier using biometrics, such as facial recognition or fingerprint recognition. If it is technologically possible to do so, users will have the choice of whether or not to use it.
They may choose to use other means of identification, such as password or identification questions. “We have the infrastructure so that we can use biometrics. From there, I would tell you that it is up to the citizens to decide if they are comfortable using it. ”
Non-technological options, such as the plastic card, will also remain available for people who are not comfortable with the technology, said the minister.
With the photos on the health insurance cards and the driver’s license, the government already has biometric markers in its databases, the minister qualifies. “Biometrics does not mean giving the Quebec government things it does not already have. Biometrics involves authorizing the Quebec government to use it to identify you. ”
Stéphane Rolland, The Canadian Press