Monthly Archives: April 2018

Quebec Leading in Digital Identity: Top Takeaways from IdentityNORTH Montreal Executive Forum

The first IdentityNORTH Montreal Executive Forum took place last week at Deloitte Tower in downtown Montreal and set the tone for broader conversations in Canada’s leading digital identity landscape.

It was a fantastic full day event that provided DIACC with a great opportunity to connect with members, including event sponsors ForgeRock, Interac, SecureKey, and Notarius, and connect with the community in another province. There were a lot of unique perspectives in the programming and the DIACC is excited to continue to help bridge these approaches and views for collective action across Canada. 

Quebec is a vibrant province where a lot is happening and there is a still a ton of potential in emerging markets and innovation in the digital economy. The packed room at the first IdentityNORTH Montreal Executive Forum reaffirmed the incredible energy, enthusiasm and excitement that is happening in Quebec. It also demonstrated a keen interest from locals and Canadian and global businesses who are looking to get into the Quebec market.

The incredible talent pool in Quebec reflects capabilities that are in high demand across Canada and demonstrates how the province has a strong position to lead in the next phase of the development in standards, technology, and organizations.

Quebec is a strong example of Canada’s unique cultural makeup. Diversity is critical for Canada’s digital economy, especially at this point in time. Diversity ensures that we have a robust approach going forward that makes us resilient against sudden changes, different technological developments, and cross-industry concerns.

Some areas where Quebec is excelling include consumer protection, artificial intelligence, and other principles and technologies that are critical for our shared success. IdentityNORTH was a perfect opportunity to connect those perspectives across provincial borders.

One of the biggest indicators of its success, and the importance of these opportunities, was the fact that more people wanted to join in. Even when tickets were sold out, even when the room was at capacity, people flooded the space in hopes of joining the conversation. There is a lot of demand for these opportunities to connect and collaborate across sectors, industries, and provinces.

We look forward to continuing to support and grow Canada’s digital identity community. Join us at the annual IdentityNORTH conference in Toronto on June 19-20, the DIACC AGM June 21 for members, and other upcoming events.

Cambridge Analytica Revelation: Reaffirming the Importance of Digital Identity

The revelation surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica’s use of data and data access breach may have been surprising to many users of the platform. For those of us in the digital identity industry and landscape, the news came as less of a shock.

When word got out about the consent issues – including insufficient permissions to access to multiple profiles and a lack of notice from Facebook – I saw it as a confirmation of the need for Privacy by Design (PbD). PbD principles posit that security and privacy controls need to be built into platforms and tools from the start and not as an afterthought. Implementation of PbD is critical in today’s digital-first world.

Speaking with other members of the digital identity community, surprise was also low on the list of reactions. “This is something we could have seen – and did see – coming ten years ago,” they refrained, pointing to their privacy and security work as existing solutions.  

“Privacy is all about personal control: Individuals must be able to decide who is permitted to gain access to their personal data and to whom it may be disclosed. Privacy by Design embodies personal control as an essential feature of embedding privacy into one’s operations – proactively baking privacy into a company’s policies and systems, in order to prevent privacy harms from arising,” said Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University. “Privacy as the default is one of the 7 Foundational Principles of PbD, which states that you shouldn’t have to ask for privacy, it should be automatically given, as the default setting. Facebook offered none of these features in their dealings with Cambridge Analytica.”

The scale and publicity of this data access breach demonstrates an adage the community has clung to that has remained true across industries and platforms for years: If you are not paying to use a service, you are the product. An invisible trade-off has been happening for years and the Digital Identity industry has been working to develop better approaches and solutions that prioritize user-centred design, transparency, and tools to help people manage access to personal data.

Recognizing the Role of Regulation

Personally, the most surprising part of the story was how quickly a tool designed for advertising could be repurposed to influence people’s political activity. While we have rules and regulatory schemes for anti-money laundering and purchasing political ads, no strong regulations exist that apply to the rapidly changing and globally connected digital advertising space.

Privacy regulatory schemes must not be only focused on building walls around data for protection. These schemes must also empower Canadians to have control and make informed choices about their data. Regulations must be aligned with access to tools and frameworks that empower citizens, businesses, and government to make better choices.


Facebook recently noted, on April 4, 2018, that half a million Canadians might have also had their data swept up by Cambridge Analytica. Despite protections in place in Canada, when we are working online the rules become less clear. Borders aren’t distinct online and there is no ubiquitous data policy or protections in place. Being in Canada or a Canadian citizen does not guarantee protection or exempt us from access and privacy issues on global platforms.

Converging Challenges

The events only serve to reinforce why, beyond privacy and consent controls, we would also benefit from assurance that an anonymous person is in fact a human and not a bot – and more transparency surrounding the origin of content online. Particularly when considering government consultations and Canadian civic engagement, digital ID that lets a person authenticate while protecting their anonymity is an essential piece of creating more secure, reliable, and trustworthy digital networks. Our Digital Citizen Engagement Whitepaper with PlaceSpeak outlines additional reasons this verification is essential for better consultation and inclusive, representational digital democracy.

The Cambridge Analytica news, combined with Russian bots, illuminates a climate where misinformation is rampant and having the option for anonymity and assurance of identification are both critical. Not only are users’ data being accessed by third parties, but these third parties are advancing discourse in regional and national conversations that do not necessarily reflect the views of constituents. Data scraping and fake bots have created a multi-pronged challenge that must be addressed in order to protect diverse voices and authentic conversations in a democratic public sphere.

Moving Forward

In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica events, we are left with a timely and widely resonating illustration of how important is it to:

  • Establish Robust Frameworks: Prioritize an evolving Pan-Canadian Trust Framework for interoperability that puts Canadians at the centre of the design
  • Position Canada for Open Data Success: Build upon Canadians’ ability to have transparency around data, access data, and use it in ways they feel most important
  • Advance Privacy and Security by Design: From the foundational frameworks to the solutions within it, privacy and security must come first

The data access breach has brought wide-scale attention and media coverage, advancing the role of personally identifiable information, consent, and privacy in the minds of the public. Our community has the opportunity to use these unfortunate circumstances to continue the conversation and educate Canadians more about their data and digital information.

Collaboration in our diverse community is critical for a higher standard, to ensure that Canadian principles are prioritized in global solutions. Canada’s cooperative approach, talent, and diversity can provide a model for our peers around the world. Together, we can ensure all stakeholders have access to the necessary tools to meet and exceed regulations in a way that prioritizes Canadians while meeting the needs of businesses and governments. With a united approach, the Canadian ecosystem can truly reflect the best of what the public and private sectors have to offer to grow economic and societal opportunities.

The DIACC strives to create opportunities for these issues to be addressed, in authentic and cooperative multi-stakeholder conversations. Collaborating on the interoperability framework is critical to avoid finding ourselves in a position where we have to adopt tools that were built without our priorities included. Get in touch to get involved with our community and share your input on our Pan-Canadian Trust Framework.

Spotlight on Biometric Signature ID

1. What is the mission and vision of Biometric Signature ID?  

Our mission is to be the leading out-of-the-box multi-factor authentication solution that provides users with proven results where it counts and security when it matters most. Whether it’s verifying personal identity, securing banking transactions, safeguarding healthcare records, gating exams or CE, or online purchases, BSI’s mission is to help individuals and organizations control risk, reduce fraud, and maintain security compliance.

Using our revolutionary software-only biometric – BioSig-ID™, we can authenticate users anytime, anywhere, simply using a mouse, finger, or stylus.

2. Why is trustworthy digital identity critical for existing and emerging markets?

As a society, we’ve arrived at this notion that securing one’s identity is a problem someone else should take care of. This is in spite of the fact that the number of data breaches has hit record highs and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. One could argue that hackers and fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated, but many companies and institutions are simply relying on the same outdated technology that left them just as vulnerable 20 years ago. With calls for new regulations, MFA solutions and better encryption methods being made daily, it’s clear that companies and consumers are looking for solutions that not only help protect their digital identity, but also keep them from being the victim of another breach and identity theft.

Trustworthy digital identity is crucial because it does and will continue to serve as one of the key pillars of security in today’s existing and emerging markets.

3. How will digital identity transform the Canadian and global economy? How does Biometric Signature ID address challenges associated with this transformation?

As a globalized society, we rely heavily on digital technology to establish trans-national partnerships, trade on the world market, conduct global transactions and operate in our daily lives. As such, digital identity is a crucial platform for not only Canada, but the world as well. Virtually every facet of today’s global economy is affected somehow by digital technologies. Unfortunately, there are 100’s of thousands of hackers and bad actors who are looking to exploit these channels at any given time.

Our digital identities drive the very foundation of our lives which is why it’s crucial now more than ever, that we look for ways to safeguard our personal and corporate online identity. Biometric Signature ID addresses these very challenges by providing a unique twist to two highly-used security methods. By combining the ease of a password with the security of biometrics, BSI has developed the world’s first written password, that’s as accurate as a traditional biometric without any of the risk if compromised.

4. What role does Canada have to play as a leader in the space?

As a world leader, Canada can take a hard look at the current digital environment and look for ways to make it better. There’s no question as to whether or not an issue exists with data breaches and fraud. The real question becomes, how will our leaders respond? Luckily, Canada is able to take charge and serve as an example of what good stewards in the digital identity space look like, as well as how they should act. Whether it’s through regulations, policies, or new initiatives, Canada can make the safe guarding of online identity and access management a top priority.

5. What else should we know about Biometric Signature ID?

Biometric Signature ID, based in Dallas, Texas, is the leading developer of biometric ID verification software solutions using multi-factor authentication (MFA). Recently, BSI was selected as a Top 10 Multifactor Authentication Solution for 2018 by Enterprise Security Magazine. The solution was independent third party tested at 99.97% accuracy and was selected 20 Most Promising Ed Tech companies by CIO REVIEW. Reports show a 98% user satisfaction rate and BioSig-ID is used by a worldwide family of users from 95 countries who have protected their identity over 12M times. BSI’s technology provides secure banking transactions, safeguards healthcare records, gates exams, protects against online theft and helps organizations to control risk, reduce fraud, manage security and maintain compliance.