Profiles in Identity Leadership: Ken McMillan


Ken McMillan

In our most recent ‘Profiles in Identity Leadership’ video, Joni Brennan spoke with Ken McMillan, who was Acting Director, Digital Identity at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and co-chair of DIACC’s Trust Framework Expert Committee (TFEC). The committee is responsible for delivering Canada’s Digital Trust Framework, including the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF).

In terms of a strategy to advance digital identity, Ken believes that Canada has the opportunity to take a lead. Canada doesn’t invest all the influence and decision making in the federal government. Rather, our strategy benefits from second, third and fourth opinions from the provinces, territories, and the private sector.

“In a sense, not being a single state that has a unitary approach.. and instead one that says we have to collaborate and we have to compromise, it puts us in a good position. That’s something that Canada can bring to the table,” he said.

In developing the PCTF, Ken has benefitted from the involvement of various groups in the TFEC.

For instance, if we can access – with privacy, consent, and security – some attributes that come by virtue of one’s banking or interactions relative to their internet service provider, then all of that information feeds into an understanding of whether an asserted identity is credible. A key question is: what do we minimally need to know about this individual to deliver a service?

“We need to complement that [interaction] with the data that is available in the private sector in terms of having a validation of identity that reflects currency as opposed to knowing once a year whether you file your taxes…we really benefit from having those Canadians at the table and the Trust Framework Expert Committee and being able to talk about how we make these systems work together.”

While his work in the area initially focused solely on just pure authentication with usernames and passwords, and not necessarily attaching identity to it, “that grew into an appreciation for some of the complexities of the problem.”  

“What I have enjoyed about DIACC is the amount of learning that takes place,” Ken said. “I like the idea that wherever I go I’m going to be surrounded by people who know a lot of things that I can learn from. [DIACC] brings a lot of different opinions, people tend to recognize that there is a stipulation to stay away from the sales pitch element and just talk about what we know, and what we’re learning, and demonstrate the humility of other things that we don’t know.”