Monthly Archives: May 2021

Canada’s Community of Digital Identity Leaders Grows to Over 100 Members

Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) welcomes the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, City of Toronto, Deloitte, the Province of Quebec, and VISA as members.

Toronto, June 1, 2021 — Governments and businesses across Canada are embracing the opportunities presented by digital ID to deliver secure, trusted and privacy-enhancing digital services to enable Canadians to transact efficiently and securely online. As Canada’s community of public and private sector digital ID leaders, the DIACC is pleased to welcome the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, City of Toronto, Deloitte, the Province of Quebec, and VISA as members. 

“Today, more than ever before, our communities, our businesses, and our citizens are looking to the leaders within the DIACC to help deliver a robust, secure, trusted digital ID ecosystem that works for all Canadians. Our economy depends on it,” stated David Nikolejsin, Chair of the DIACC Board.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new cohort of public and private sector members to the DIACC,” said Joni Brennan, DIACC President. “With over 100 members including the government of Canada, provincial governments, municipal governments, financial institutions, telcos, technology companies, consulting companies, SMEs, academic partners, international organizations, and nonprofits, the DIACC is Canada’s largest and most inclusive community of digital ID leaders.”

“When the DIACC began nearly a decade ago, it was a small group of passionate public and private sector organizations committed to unlocking economic opportunities for Canadian consumers and businesses while protecting and promoting Canadian values and perspectives in the digital economy,” said Eros Spadotto, EVP, Telus. 

“Building on the vision of the founding members, the non-profit DIACC coalition has grown to over 100 private and public sector leaders who are working together towards establishing an interoperable ecosystem that Canadians can use with confidence,” added Robert Devries, Assistant Deputy Minister Platforms, Ontario Digital Service.

In 2020 the DIACC  delivered on that vision with the launch of the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework™, a robust, privacy-enhancing trust framework shaped by Canadian values that permits trusted digital identity and provides clear guidelines on digital interoperability. 

Recent research by the DIACC underlines Canadians’ desire for, and expectation of secure, trusted and convenient digital transactions – a desire that has increased as a result of the pandemic. 

“From receiving emergency pandemic benefits to ensuring health records are correct and helping children and youth with online education, there are many ways in which a secure digital ID is essential to the functioning of daily life during a pandemic – and beyond,” added CJ Ritchie, CIO of the Government of British Columbia. 

According to the DIACC research, the majority of Canadians believe it is important for federal and provincial governments to move quickly on enabling digital ID in a safe and secure manner, according to the survey. It also shows that collaboration between governments and the private sector continues to be considered the best approach to create a pan-Canadian digital ID framework. 

With the addition of these new members and increasing demand from Canadians, it is clear that there is no better time for governments and businesses to invest in making digital ID a national public policy priority.


The DIACC is a non-profit coalition of public and private sector leaders committed to developing a Canadian digital identification and authentication framework to enable Canada’s full and secure participation in the global digital economy. The DIACC was created as a result of the federal government’s Task Force for the Payments System Review and members include representatives from both the federal and provincial levels of government as well as private sector leaders.


Krista Pawley


Our digital future and economic recovery rest on getting digital ID right

As Canada’s economy reopens and talk of requiring vaccination proof heats up, it is essential to remember that security and privacy are paramount. 

Proof of vaccination, sometimes called “vaccine passports,” may provide a tool for accelerating economic recovery, and the validity of these proofs requires a safe and secure relationship to an identity behind it. Solving digital ID challenges with priority in a meaningful way is the most impactful way to empower people, prevent fraud, and privacy breaches as Canadians return to attending school in person, going to concerts, travelling, eating indoors in restaurants and more. 

We can no longer wait — it’s time for Canada to take leadership and get serious about solving digital identity or someone else outside of our country will.

As privacy commissioners across Canada have said, “Privacy should be front and centre as governments and businesses consider COVID-19 vaccine passports as a tool to help Canadians return to normal life.”

Data minimization must be the standard, where TWO things are essential for a secure and smooth transition to our digital economy: 

1) only share the necessary information to prove a user’s identity, and 

2) only share the data needed to fulfill the transaction at hand. 

That’s why, for 10 years, the DIACC has built up the important digital ID sector as the trusted voice for driving the public and private sector development of a Pan-Canadian Trust Framework, industry standards, policy advisory, and proof of concept initiatives that support the establishment and adoption of a fully digital, and privacy-respecting country that benefits Canadians.

Canadians and businesses need clarity and leadership from governments on implementing a safe and secure digital ID so that society and the economy can reopen more safely. A cohesive public and private sector approach is needed. And governments must make solving digital identity, with privacy and security, a stated priority now. Our country cannot afford to address digital identity as siloed and individual projects. Canada needs to take the lead by establishing Canadian principled solutions that will work at home and export our values around the world.

Implementing a digital identity ecosystem now will allow for a more effective transition to secure Canada’s full and beneficial participation in the digital economy, whether it’s introducing digital vaccine proofs, receiving government benefits, updating an immigration status, entering the workforce and more.

As Canada’s trusted voice on digital ID, the DIACC’s 100-plus members from both the private and public sectors have the business, legal, technical and deep real-world experience to continue spearheading the establishment of a digital identity ecosystem that is designed to benefit people.

While technologies for creating digital proofs of identity and vaccination (passports) are here now, residents and businesses need provincial and federal governments to take leadership by establishing clear policy and guidance for usage to ensure that no Canadians are left behind.

If Canadian governments prioritize the establishment of digital ID that works for people, governments, and the economy, then vaccine proofs (passports) and myriad other uses can be implemented with security and privacy embedded by design.

Digital ID is not about surveillance, tracking Canadians’ online activity, or data collection. It’s about empowering Canadians with the choice to safely share their existing credentials (eg: passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, citizenship cards) for digital transactions.

With digital identity done right, a vaccine proof (passport) would allow Canadians to securely prove who they are, verify that they were vaccinated, and have a digital credential to use in any instance that requires it — all in a safe and secure way that does not divulge any other private health record. 

Our digital future and economic recovery rest on getting digital ID right.

About the Author:

Joni Brennan is the President of the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and builds on 15 plus years of experience in Digital Identity innovations and standards development. She helps DIACC to fulfill its vision of unlocking interoperability of public and private sector capabilities through the establishment of an identity trust framework that will grow Canada’s economy.

Spotlight on Sterling Backcheck

1.What is the mission and vision of Sterling Backcheck?

Sterling Backcheck’s mission is to provide the foundation of trust and safety for our clients so they can create great environments for their most essential resource, people. Sterling Backcheck’s vision is the world where verified identity information should be owned and accessible easily by the individual.

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

So much of our lives is now in a digital format, both personally and professionally. We rely on technology to handle sensitive information, which, if not done correctly, can put us in jeopardy. Digital Identity is a crucial safeguard to preventing identity fraud, which could result in a significant damage to people’s life. Digital Identity is a key enabler to unlocking the next frontier of the digital economy. Through trustworthy Digital Identity, we can enable a safe digital future.

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

The World Bank estimates that roughly 1 billion people lack an official foundational identification. Millions have forms of identification that cannot be reliably verified or authenticated, resulting in exclusion from economic opportunities. Our parent company, Sterling, has been working on the creation of a digital identity wallet to help address the challenges worldwide. By joining DIACC, Sterling Backcheck hopes to help bridge that gap and offer a platform for trustworthy ID verification.

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

Canada has always been the pioneer on the identity front. For example, unlike many other countries, ID verification is required before starting a background check in Canada. In addition, Canada has always emphasized the importance of data privacy and storage. Building on those principles, Canada is well positioned to lead the conversation on digital identity services.

5. Why did your organization join the DIACC?

At Sterling Backcheck, we aspire to a vision that Digital identity verification should only have to occur once and personal identity verification should only be shared, when necessary and proportional to the need. Individuals and organizations should mutually benefit from digital identity innovation. While technology has created opportunities to enhance digital identity, we’ve also noticed examples of some migration away from sound identity verification practices. We see DIACC as an important vehicle to bolster and promulgate sound digital identity practices. We joined to help forward the mission of DIACC towards that goal.

6. What else should we know about your organization?

Sterling Backcheck is a pioneer in background screening, having revolutionized the industry with eConsent, a fully online platform for collecting candidate consent prior to starting their check. Through our proactive and collaborative approach working with the federal authorities that govern our industry, we have continuously offered a safe and secure way for organizations to conduct background screening. We conduct over a million criminal record checks on behalf of thousands of employers annually. There is no question that our processes have been refined over the years. We’re always looking for ways to innovate and continue to offer best in class service to our clients.

Letter to the Hill Times Editor

May 7, 2021

Re: A little-known Trans-Canada digital identity regime in the works, in whose interest? by Ken Rubin, The Hill Times, May 3, 2021.

Dear Editor, 

In his column, “A little-known Trans-Canada digital identity regime in the works, in whose interest?”, Ken Rubin inaccurately writes that “On the legislative front, business-backed groups like the Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada are calling for revamping Canada’s outdated public-sector Privacy Act to allow for a more permissive legal regime that clears the way for digital IDs and one-stop digitized government services. … Canadian governments need to hit ‘pause’ and rethink their digital identity scheme and digital legislation which are pushing sufficient and secure privacy protection largely aside.”

The Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) was created following the federal government’s Task Force for the Payments System Review to bring together public and private sector partners in developing a safe and secure digital ID ecosystem that will enable Canada’s full and beneficial participation in the global digital economy.

The DIACC has more than 100 members spanning several sectors including public policy leaders and chief information officers from the federal and provincial governments, networks for payments and for identity verification, technology service providers, strategy and integration experts and financial institutions.

The DIACC fully shares the author’s concern for Canadian’s privacy. This concern is why, for 10 years, the DIACC has built up this important sector as the trusted voice for driving the development of a pan-Canadian trust framework, standards, and initiatives that support the establishment of a fully digital, and privacy-respecting country that Canadians want. DIACC prioritizes a federated approach to work in alignment with Canada’s federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigienous governments. This approach does not support linking of identities, rather, it leverages and extends Privacy by Design principles to enable Canadians to choose which identity credentials they wish to use respecting diversity and promoting inclusion. 

According to recent research, the majority of Canadians believe it is important for federal and provincial governments to move quickly on enabling digital ID in a safe and secure manner. It also shows that collaboration between governments and the private sector continues to be considered the best approach to create a pan-Canadian digital ID framework.

In today’s digital economy, and as the pandemic has made clear, Canadians should be empowered to give informed consent for its use across multiple platforms and in economic areas where proving identity is crucial for secure transactions.

Establishing digital ID that works for Canadians is not about creating one identity to be used for surveillance or tracking. It’s about using the credentials that Canadians already have offline (eg: passports, driver’s licenses, health cards, citizenship cards, bank cards, student cards); having those credentials securely issued digitally; and being able to use them for digital transactions  —  from opening a bank account from the comfort of home, to accessing medical records, to receiving government benefits quickly and easily.

When it comes to legislation, there is no clear policy directive in C-11 that allows Canadians to understand what they can expect in terms of accessing the data the public services have about them. This is why it’s essential for the federal government to empower Canadians to be able to use the credentials associated with them in a modern digital economy, with security and privacy. If Canada is going to be a modern digital society and economy, Canadians must understand what they can expect about data that exists about them in both the public and private sectors. 

Canadian governments should not ‘hit pause’ on digital ID, they should be investing in truly unlocking digital. Investing in digital ID not only makes economic sense but also establishes digital tools to support societal trust, provides security, strengthens privacy, and mitigates fraud. This is a win for all.


Joni Brennan
President, Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada

Equitable digital identity access as the key to unlocking sustainable development

Owning and accessing an official proof of identity remains a challenge for over 1 billion people in the world. This lack of documented identity disproportionately affects marginalized groups like women and ethnic minorities, especially in developing nations where barriers exist to the issuing of basic credentials like birth certificates or national identity documents. Without a functional identity, marginalized communities remain unable to take advantage of key financial, educational, and political resources the digital world can provide. This disparity is a primary focus for the global community. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals even enumerated Goal 16.9 with a specific target: By 2030, providing legal identity for all, including birth registration. If even basic analog identifiers are out of the reach of people across the globe, then digital identity proves nearly impossible for them to obtain. Though Canada remains a leader in digital identity, challenges remain with complete integration of marginalized communities into their developed digital identity ecosystems. This post stands to outline the global problem, and provide insight into a global solution framework which could possibly be applied to the Canadian context. 

A gender divide in digital access has been prevalent for decades, and has widened over the past years between developed and developing countries. Roughly 330 million fewer women than men have access to a smartphone and the mobile internet. They are 26% less likely to own a mobile device, and in South Asia and Africa those proportions stand at 70% and 34% respectively. Without access to the mobile internet and the ability to affirm their digital identity, people are left unable to utilize key resources that could help sustain them and their families. These resources could include access to financial accounts, employment opportunities, microfinance applications, digital platforms to create independent income, public health and healthcare initiatives, and the breadth of the Internet as a place to gain knowledge and skills. With ready access to these digital platforms, marginalized communities can find financial stability and health resources that will improve their quality of life. 

Economic development organizations such as the World Bank are developing strategies to introduce Digital ID frameworks to its member countries. The World Bank’s Identity for Development (ID4D) Diagnostics provides a possible methodology to identify ways to improve identity management systems around the world. Inclusion is a key priority for ID4D, with a focus on systems with high levels of coverage and access. The universality of coverage is defined in both longitudinal and latitudinal terms. Longitudinal coverage spans the lifetime of an individual, while latitudinal coverage refers to the breadth of society the system covers. Accessibility requires the removal of barriers to usage and disparities in the availability of information and technology. ID4D stresses the importance of “inclusion by design”, tasking system builders to communicate with marginalized communities to see where legal, social, and economic gaps may exist to avoid further exacerbating them. According to ID4D, these identity systems should also possess a high level of interoperability. Interoperable systems are more efficient, both in time and money, and allow for integration across multiple platforms. It also suggests using open standards, rather than proprietary technology, which foster innovation in the system and encourage technological advances to be made.

Does the way that ID4D is applied in developing nations provide any lessons for how a developed country can better serve its marginalized communities? Do other solution frameworks exist to map a developed digital identity ecosystem for gaps in coverage and access? By asking these questions, we begin a conversation that will result in improving identity access for all. When connected to a digital identity, marginalized communities are able to take advantage of a wealth of resources that can improve their financial, social, and political standing. In turn, this supports sustainable growth in their home country and contributes to a system where all can benefit. 

About the Author:

Kyra John is a technology coordinator in the wireless industry and passionate about diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship. She has always been drawn to complex problems, and is excited to work as a Community Volunteer with DIACC to delve deeper into topics relating to technology and equity. She has a degree in international affairs and conflict resolution from The George Washington University and enjoys music, reading, and alpine hiking in her free time.


  3. Goal 16 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  5. How Women Are Using Technology to Advance Gender Equality and Peace
  6. Digital identity is coming of age in Canada in 2020 | IT World Canada News
  7. Most Canadians want digital identity for online government services, DIACC plans its role | Biometric Update

Spotlight on BlueShore Financial

  1. What is the mission and vision of BlueShore Financial?

BlueShore Financial’s mission: “Passionately improving our clients’ financial well-being in an interconnected, digital world.”

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

Trustworthy digital identity is critical to enable the continued development of a robust digital economy in Canada, and the potential direct and indirect benefits that come with it for all Canadians. Furthermore, lack of  a common trusted digital identity approach could result in a patchwork of various digital ID schemes, which would not only cause confusion for Canadians (and thus much slower adoption), but also create easy targets for cyber criminals.

From a financial industry perspective, a trustworthy digital ID is a critical component to successfully implement Open Banking, one of the globally accepted key trends in banking.

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

Two of the most populous countries in the world have established digital IDs: India with its government issued Unique ID (UID) number—or Aadhaar—identity program, and China with its digital identify provided by Ant Financial. These two countries are most populous with emerging economies. To remain a global player, Canada has to be able to compete with the likes of India and China when it comes to technology-savviness

Several other countries now have national digital identify programs and while these programs may not be perfect, they are evolving – Canada needs to do the same. Canada needs to start with a digital identity program, and then use an agile and iterative approach to evolve and keep up with new technologies as well as consumer needs and demands. Since Canada is somewhat late to the game, Canada can learn from the experience of other countries in both technology implementations and consumer rollout, which I know DIACC and its members from across the spectrum of government, finance, healthcare, telco, retail, auditors, etc., are discussing and working through DIACC Pan-Canadian Trusted Framework approach.

BlueShore addresses the challenges in two ways:

I. Internally we see digital identity as a core component of our digital transformation journey.

II. Broadly, digital identity is part of our conversations from Open Banking, to Payments Modernization to Data Privacy. We also work closely and in a “spirit of partnership” with our core technology partners.

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

Canada has a role to play as a G7 member to show digital leadership with respect to developing and launching a national digital identity program. Not only would this provide opportunities for Canadian businesses, but it would also demonstrate a model of how government and industries are able to work together to provide a key digital tool for Canadian consumers.

5. Why did your organization join the DIACC?

BlueShore saw the work DIACC and its members were doing defining, creating and building a national digital identity framework. It was this framework approach that attracted our attention to bolster our digital transformation work.

6. What else should we know about your organization?

BlueShore Financial is a boutique financial institution providing a full range of personal and business banking, wealth management, insurance and commercial lending solutions. With a branch network located across the Vancouver Lower Mainland and Sea-to-Sky Corridor, BlueShore Financial helps clients achieve financial wellness® through personalized solutions and expert advice, delivered in a unique Financial Spa® branch environment. BlueShore Financial manages over $6.5 billion in Assets Under Administration and is consistently ranked among the top 20 financial planning firms in Metro Vancouver.

BlueShore Financial is an Imagine Canada Caring Company, contributing at least 1% of pre-tax profits annually to charities and not-for-profit organizations within the communities it serves. BlueShore Financial is the operating name of BlueShore Financial Credit Union.

Spotlight on Yubico

  1. What is the mission and vision of Yubico?

Yubico was founded in Sweden with the mission to protect all internet citizens, making secure login easy and available to everyone.

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

Stolen credentials are a top online security risk for individuals and companies. Breaches cause severe financial, brand, and personal impact. It’s critical that people, and organizations, have access to solutions for all their different requirements.

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

Digital identity is critical for citizens, governments, and the private sector. As our lives move more and more online, our ability to identify ourselves in a secure, easy way will be key in order to access government systems, banking, and interact with goods and services providers.

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

Canada has the opportunity to be a world leader in the digital identity space. Our emergence as a highly desirable destination for up-and-coming tech companies, along with the coinciding tech talent, places Canada in a unique position. In order to capitalize on Canada’s emergence, it will require a strong partnership between the private and public sectors to help enable citizens, clients, and employees to have a safe online experience. Organizations like the DIACC are paramount in bringing together the key stakeholders to help achieve this shared goal that will truly benefit every Canadian.

5. Why did Yubico join the DIACC?

Yubico has been a leader and innovator in the authentication space for over a decade. In 2020 Yubico decided to put its first sales and technical resources in Canada due to the growing demand for our products. DIACC has a reputation for bringing together like-minded organizations and people that share a vision of improved digital identity.

6. What else should we know about your organization?

Yubico pioneered the design of the first one-time password authenticator to work with a simple touch and with no client software, and we made it compatible with the open authentication standard OATH. We then further secured and simplified the PIV smart card standard by adding touch-to-sign and built-in attestation. Yubico collaborated with Google and Microsoft to co-create the FIDO Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) and FIDO2 open authentication standards. Our work has contributed to open identity standards organizations W3C, IETF, FIDO Alliance and OpenID.

Directory of Identity Management and Proofing Products

Our Directory of Identity Management and Proofing Products has been retired and replaced by our new DIACC Member Services Directory (MSD).

The DIACC MSD incorporates public feedback and new capabilities, including filter-based search. Only DIACC Members, certified service providers, and service providers undergoing certification are eligible to list their services. The DIACC MSD opened on February 15th, 2024. As DIACC members, certified service providers, and service providers undergoing certification complete their DIACC MSD listings, the value of this resource will grow.

DIACC Member Services Directory Objectives: 

  • Address a range of adoption audiences, e.g., law societies, lawyers, notaries, and industry professionals who must verify their clients’ identities. 
  • Help members communicate adherence to standards, best practices, and specific privacy, security, equity, and trust requirements. 
  • Based on your valuable feedback, evolve our previous static (PDF) directory and expand the service types listed.
  • Provide a dynamic, filterable, and searchable tool for easier access to information.
  • Showcase our members’ service capabilities and design features.  

We understand that transitions can be challenging as we move from the Directory of Identity Management and Proofing Products to the DIACC Member Services Directory. Send questions regarding this transition or your interest in being listed in the DIACC MSD to