Monthly Archives: January 2021

DIACC International Pilots Special Interest Group “Un-panel”

In recognition of the 2021 International Data Privacy Day taking place January 28th, Joni Brennan, President of the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), hosts an “un-panel” with guests from around the world who are committed to focusing on issues around data privacy, empowering people while ensuring they’re protected, and advancing the international data governance landscape.

Guests include:

  1. Joni Brennan (Canada)
  2. Mark Lizar (Canada)
  3. Dick Dekkers (Netherlands)
  4. Steve Pannifer (UK)
  5. Paul Theyskens (Belgium)
  6. Sal D’Agostino (USA)

If you’d like to learn more about how to get involved in DIACC’s international activities, please contact

The PCTF is a tool for implementing Canada’s Digital Charter

It’s well-established that digital technology is the defining force of our modern lives. Work, play, social, commercial and political interactions are all taking place online. In the era of social distancing, the already crucial migration to digital platforms has accelerated, leaving many Canadian citizens, organizations and governments eager to get online with confidence.

That confidence must extend beyond the internet connection – it is fundamental for developing trust amongst Canadians that the systems, organizations, and information they are interacting with and sharing are reliable and secure. Trust encompasses personal data protection and empowerment, so that Canadians have the ability to share their information, in exchange for products or services, and decide when and what information they want to share.

Protecting their data is crucial. As is the need to remain open, innovative, and leading in an increasingly competitive global digital market. Canadians know that data is important – both to use and to protect.

Canada’s Digital Future: Built on Values and The Digital Charter

Leveraging input from Canadians who are eager to develop skills and talent for the future of work, drive innovation for more competitive advantage, and ensure that privacy and trust remain a priority, the Federal Government of Canada has launched the Digital Charter.

The Digital Charter details a plan to reach all of those goals with ten principles in place to guide decisions and set priorities:

  1. Universal Access
  2. Safety and Security
  3. Control and Consent
  4. Transparency, Portability, and Interoperability
  5. Open and Modern Digital Government
  6. A Level Playing Field
  7. Data and Digital for Good
  8. Strong Democracy
  9. Free from Hate and Violent Extremism
  10. Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability

Ultimately, the Digital Charter sets out a mission to make Canada home to a privacy-respecting, “innovative, people-centred, and inclusive digital economy built on trust.” The vision aligns closely with the DIACC’s public and private sector focused Pan-Canadian Trust FrameworkTM (PCTF)

The PCTF development and definition of core sections have been carefully steered by Canadians who are leaders in diverse industries and the public sector. From the outset, it has been designed through multi-jurisdictional collaboration. DIACC acts as a convening body to synthesize the expertise, needs, and requirements of public and private sectors and represent the interests of all Canadians. The Trust Framework offers insight into how Canadians’ values can be reflected across industries, locations, and use cases in practical ways. The first version, that is currently being tested in-market, reflects back these ten principles in concrete, actionable and thorough standards.

Enabling Everyone through Digital ID and the Pan-Canadian Trust FrameworkTM

The Digital Charter is used to implement a digital ecosystem as a whole that respects Canadians’ need for safety, security, and opportunity. To make that vision a reality, digital identity needs to be built in from the outset, and factored in by design. 

The PCTF has been developed by Canada’s public and private sectors as a comprehensive tool to establish interoperability of personal and business data as well as the security practices that governments and businesses will require to ensure that the benefits of people are kept at the centre of design and decisions. The Trust Framework provides a clear method for rallying Canada’s diverse industries, provincial and territorial systems, and users around agreed-upon standards for the best possible security, user experience, and outcomes. 

The PCTF offers a pathway for governments, businesses, and individuals to plug into the benefits of the digital economy and interact seamlessly across Canadian entities without ever reconsidering or faltering that high degree of trust. 

The PCTF directly addresses many of the principles outlined in the Digital Charter, accelerating progress on the top six in particular. Expertise in security, consent, user experience, and interoperability have been guiding forces from the beginning of the PCTF development. These values are echoed in the Charter and ensure all Canadians and Canadian organizations of all sizes are able to take advantage of the convenience and potential scale afforded by digital technologies. 

At its core, the PCTF is intended to increase data access and extend opportunities to all Canadians, whether they’re setting up their first business and offering online services or reviewing their health records from home. Ensuring they’re able to complete these and all tasks online with speed, ease, and peace of mind that their information is secure is the goal.

Ensuring that delivery of benefits to all Canadians is at the core of the digital economy, the PCTF maintains that businesses and governments must provide reliable, accountable, and interoperable services. Giving Canadians the freedom of choice and simplified user experience they have come to expect. 

PCTF has data privacy and citizen/resident data empowerment built into every aspect of the standards, offering universal standards and a simple implementation approach for organizations to follow. The Digital Charter is about reprioritizing personal data protection. Paired with the PCTF, it will ensure individuals interacting online will be respected and protected as individuals at the core of the digital economy, with business and governments acting as standards implementers, law enforcers, and service providers in service of Canadians.

Learn more about the DIACC’s critical work in progressing the PCTF. Please contact us if you are interested in getting involved at

Spotlight on ECAD Labs Inc.

1.What is the mission and vision of ECAD Labs Inc.?

At ECAD Labs Inc., our mission is to increase the GDP of the blockchain economy by creating safe and easy-to-use software development tools for blockchain applications. As an open-source first company, we are most successful when we empower all developers to build innovative, world-changing applications

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

Decentralized ID and authentication tools built on public blockchain protocols will provide an accessible, trusted, and secure platform for individuals to manage their personal information and interact online with businesses and governments. These tools can have a profound impact on Canada and emerging markets by improving access to regulated online services while reducing reliance on intermediaries that may suffer from limited oversight or trust.

3. How will digital identity transform the Canadian and global economy? How does ECAD Labs Inc. address challenges associated with this transformation?

Decentralized digital identity and authentication will transform the Canadian and global economy by shifting control of personal information back to consumers and reducing compliance costs for regulated entities providing online products and services.

This technology will become a critical compliance tool for businesses and institutions as virtual currencies, digital securities and other blockchain-based products and services are integrated into regulated markets.

At ECAD Labs Inc., we are building open-source developer tools to simplify the adoption of decentralized digital identities in blockchain applications.

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

As an advanced, educated, and urbanized economy with high online connectivity rates, Canada is well-positioned to become a leader in the development and adoption of digital identity and verification technologies.

DIACC plays a vital role in this process, and ECAD Labs Inc. is excited to join the conversation.

5. Why did ECAD Labs Inc. join the DIACC?

At ECAD Labs Inc., we believe that decentralized digital identification and verification tools  will facilitate the mass adoption of virtual currencies and other blockchain technologies. Our goal is to provide our clients with open-source software development tools that support vendor neutral access to decentralized ID and authentication services interoperable across technologies and jurisdictions.

Joining DIACC will help us understand, support and develop decentralized ID and verification standards, meet community members and advocate for a regulatory environment that promotes Canadian innovation.

6. What else should we know about ECAD Labs Inc.?

ECAD Labs Inc. is a Vancouver based software development company that builds and maintains open-source software development tools and libraries for the Tezos blockchain protocol, including the TypeScript library, remote signer, and indexer API. We are currently working with industry partners to support decentralized identities in various blockchain applications.

Spotlight on ApplyBoard

1.What is the mission and vision of ApplyBoard?

 ApplyBoard believes that education is a right, not a privilege. The company empowers prospective international students around the world to access the best education by simplifying the study abroad search, application, and acceptance process. By connecting international students, academic institutions, and recruitment partners on a single digital platform, ApplyBoard drives qualified student applications and diversity to over 1,200 campuses across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. To date, ApplyBoard has assisted more than 120,000 students along their educational journeys and has become the world leader in providing study abroad opportunities.

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

As a company that has disrupted the traditional education application process

through technological innovation, ApplyBoard understands the importance of developing a trustworthy digital identity. The company has broken down barriers to accessing information and opportunity, creating a global digital ecosystem that spans thousands of partners and customers in hundreds of countries around the world. During the online application process, the ability to trust the identity of the applicant is key to improving global mobility. Proof of identity is required at various stages of the international student journey, including admission, international payments, and immigration.

ApplyBoard recently launched ApplyProof, an industry-leading platform that enables immigration stakeholders, students, and institutions to validate document authenticity by providing access to the digital original held securely by ApplyProof. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital ecosystems and doing business online, driving the need for heightened security and privacy demands. It is critical for businesses like ApplyBoard to innovate and partner with organizations like DIACC to champion the creation of secure digital properties and tools to drive a digital future.

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

ApplyBoard firmly believes that by creating a strong digital identity framework for Canadians, we will be able to build global trust that will increase capacity for international collaborations. International students play a vital role in driving the Canadian economy. By improving efficiency and trust in the digital ecosystem, the international education segment will thrive faster with fewer costs while positively impacting local economies. Additionally, a robust digital identity framework will reduce international students’ reliance on shared physical locations, allowing them to learn from multiple locations simultaneously from around the world.

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

By bringing together the most forward-thinking public and private sector organizations, institutions, and other stakeholders in the country, Canada has the ability to step up and become a global leader in the digital identification and authentication space. Working together, these groups will showcase their abilities and achieve collectively desired outcomes that benefit Canadians and drive us closer to creating a secure, scalable, inclusive, and privacy-enhancing digital ecosystem.

5. Why did ApplyBoard join the DIACC?

ApplyBoard has joined DIACC to become a foundational member of the ecosystem that’s addressing key identification issues. ApplyBoard is excited to bring its technology and experience to the ecosystem while having the opportunity to learn from other leaders. Together, we will improve the international student journey for the thousands of students that choose to study in Canada every year. As we grow our base of global partners, we are excited to play a role in sharing standards around the world.

6. What else should we know about ApplyBoard?

ApplyBoard was founded in 2015 by Martin, Meti, and Massi Basiri, three brothers that came from Iran to study at post-secondary institutions in Canada. Today, the company has grown to become the world’s largest online platform for international student recruitment, using AI and machine learning to assist more than 120,000 students with their educational journeys. In 2019, ApplyBoard was named the fastest-growing technology company in Canada by Deloitte, ranking #1 on the Technology Fast 50™. The company ranked #2 in 2020. To learn more about ApplyBoard, please visit their website.

Protecting Privacy While Reopening Economies

The Value of the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework

Co-written by Kaliya Young, IdentityWoman & Joni Brennan, DIACC President

Around the world, people are suffering due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of this suffering is due to the need to move education and work to take place fully online. Many workplaces have moved their workforce to be remote.  However, not all workplaces are able to function remotely. (Examples goods and essential services, pharmacy, travel etc…) Workplaces that are not able to operate remotely have shut down or limited hours and capacity severely.  This puts a massive strain on economies.  

In the past we have talked about Digital Identity as a convenience to make it easier for people to transact with cybersecurity and privacy protection. Now, when we talk about security, the conversation is urgent and focused on life security.  People are asking, “Will I be able to continue to work? Will I be able to put food on the table?”  

Governments and businesses are urgently looking for tools to safely reopen and restart economies. 


In the U.S., large cities are considering proposals that delegate the management of phygital (physical-digital) identity to CLEAR, a U.S. based company, so that cities can “safely reopen” their local economies by requiring people who want to navigate the city to have a CLEAR ID and link it to their health record/COVID status. 

CLEAR offers a service that replaces a physical ID check with a biometric scan of a person’s eyes and fingertips. In some locations, this service allows passengers to move through airport security faster. 

CLEAR is like “login-with Facebook” or “login-with Google” where people are required to get into websites to have a relationship with these private identity providers where CLEAR’s service straddles both the physical and digital worlds. 

Just as Facebook or Google login tracks and surveils you and your behaviours, the CLEAR approach could essentially track and surveil people in the physical world. This approach also has the potential to delegate authority to manage access to public spaces by a single private sector entity. Without an agreed on and adopted framework, this type of approach could have the effect of restricting freedom of movement to be managed by a single private sector entity.  

Why Trust Frameworks Matter

As businesses and governments are looking for tools to safely reopen and restart economies.  Tools for reopening are an important part of the challenge.  Tool development and tool selection in these scenarios must be guided by “rules of the road” that put people and socioeconomic security at the centre of the design. 

Without transparent operational guidance, people’s privacy and personal freedoms may be compromised. By having a set of operational rules, decision makers will have the capacity to make better decisions that will enable the public to trust that the tools being implemented have been designed to respect their best interests. 

The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework represents a set of operational rules that have been developed by public and private sector leaders to enable a diversity of public and private sector organizations to provide services and solutions that could help to restart the economy.  

By having a Pan-Canadian Trust Framework, the playing field could be leveled to enable a diversity of entities to play a role in safely reopening economies with privacy and personal data protections built in by design. 

The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework has been built with privacy and consent to personal information disclosure embedded into all aspects of the design. The Pan-Canadian Trust Framework has been designed to measure the implementation of assurance, security and privacy practices in networks and solutions that are built on various (and often different) technologies. 

For more information about how your organization can adopt or help to shape the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework please visit or contact us at