Monthly Archives: November 2022

Video Gamers, Say Hello to Digital Identity

By Chris Ferreira, Senior Program Manager, DIACC. Additional contributions made by members of DIACC’s Outreach Expert Committee

I remember the first time I played a video game as if it was yesterday. My older brother spent an entire summer working so he could afford to buy an Atari 2600 game console which was the pinnacle of home gaming entertainment at the time. News of this purchase spread like wildfire and the next thing we knew, we had a room full of kids and adults huddled around a TV playing Pac-Man and Asteroids for hours. From that moment forward, I was a gamer for life.

Today, the video game industry is larger than the movie and music industries combined, drawing in over 2 billion gamers worldwide. The industry generates a staggering amount of revenue annually. In 2020, players spent $4.5 billion USD on immersive games, also known as Virtual Reality gaming, alone. When considering console sales, gaming subscriptions, mobile gaming, and micro-transactions (i.e., in-game purchases with real-world money), that revenue figure skyrockets.

By the end of 2021, the video game market generated more than $180 billion USD in revenue and it’s predicted that the global gaming market is set to reach over $268 billion USD by 2025.

So how does Digital Identity come into play?

Digital Identity can be defined as a digital representation that uniquely identifies a person and can be used to verify their identity when they want to access services. Look at it as a way to prove who you are online without the need for paper documents such as a driver’s license. People who use Google or Facebook profiles to create accounts or login to a particular service already have a form of Digital Identity. When used properly, Digital Identity can even help ensure video gaming is done securely and safely by protecting personal information and virtual treasures from being stolen.

Facial recognition systems are being deployed to prevent young gamers from playing age-gated content and between certain hours of the day. The hugely successful Roblox game has introduced an optional age verification for its users that will combine an ID check with a selfie scan that will be required to access in-game voice chat features and will allow developers to “create new experiences that will rely on identity verification in the future”. Facial recognition technology can provide a much more secure and trusted way of verifying a person’s identity compared to simply using a user name and password. However, these tactics, although stemming from good intentions, are being scrutinized by some privacy groups who have concerns with how securely a person’s data is being stored, where the data is being kept, and by whom the data can be accessed by.

With an industry that generates such significant global revenue, it’s bound to attract the attention of cyberattackers looking to steal company and gamer data for malicious use. Video game companies are targeted frequently because they don’t need to adhere to the same security and regulatory requirements as other organizations such as banks or hospitals that are mandated to protect client data. As with most people, gamers are exposed to security risks as they often use the same or weak passwords across multiple sites which makes it easy for hackers to obtain their login credentials. It’s an awful feeling to log into your game to see all your virtual items and in-game currency – that took hours, days, and months to accumulate – stolen by an unknown virtual bandit. Or worse, hackers often steal gamers’ personal information and even financial information like credit card details.

Fortunately, game studios have started taking these risks and threats seriously by ensuring that seamless account security mechanisms are in place. Game studios are also increasing their player’s awareness when it comes to their identity management controls so they understand the risks associated with password and account sharing and purchasing game add-ons from unapproved vendors. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is becoming more common practice amongst gamers to improve their security and reduce chances of account takeover. 

Major game studios are stepping up to do their part to protect their customers’ information while at the same time being more aggressive with their internal operational security measures to prevent their game code from being stolen. Concepts like Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) are also coming into play allowing gamers even more control over their personal information’s use. When game studio Midnight Society released their video game DeadDrop, they integrated Digital Identity that was verified via Blockchain. During the game’s testing period, players were issued digital credentials that allowed them to access the beta through the Polygon Blockchain network. Those digital credentials would allow the user to validate their identity and play the game before its release.

For gamers, their data is under constant threat but there are things that can be done to protect themselves from cyber-villains such as: 

  • Using strong passwords or a password manager and avoiding using the same passwords for several accounts to prevent brute force attacks. 
  • Being suspicious of emails appearing to be from their game’s studio asking them to login into their game account. No company should ever ask a person to share their password under any circumstances.
  • Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to make the computer’s location unclear for added protection.
  • Setting up two-factor authentication to ensure that a hacker can’t access their account even if they manage to steal their password.
  • Only downloading game add-ons from trusted and verified sources. 

Digital Identity and video games will continue to be embedded into our social fabric. And much like gamers wanting to protect their virtual characters from countless dangers, the same care should be taken with their real-life personal data. Evolving Digital Identity solutions, policies, and governance will be essential to ensuring gamers’ virtual, and real-world loot, remains safe and sound.

Universal Digital Identity Policy Principles to Maximize Benefits for People: a shared European and Canadian Perspective

New study highlights policy design principles to maximize benefits of digital identity

(TORONTO) – November 2, 2022 – The Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) and the Human Technology Foundation (HTF) today released a report titled Universal Digital Identity Policy Principles to Maximize Benefits for People: a shared European and Canadian Perspective. This report highlights the latest research, analysis and lessons learned about the ongoing development of digital identity strategies. The report further offers a set of policy design principles to help guide the optimal development and implementation of digital identification policies by governments, institutions and private sector entities.  

“This paper has been written with human considerations at the center, to inform policy makers and influencers from the public and private sectors, as well as the general public that may have interest in policy design,” said Joni Brennan, President of the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada. “We hope governments and private sector entities will use the report as a tool to define policy design principles that support a common duty of care for organizations that implement digital identification systems and help enable them to consistently apply that duty of care.”

The report is a joint project of DIACC, a Canadian non-profit coalition of over 100 private and public sector organizations, and HTF, a network of several thousand members that operates in Paris, Montreal and Geneva. It offers 3 core policy design recommendations for decision makers, which are then declined into concrete measures:

  • Digital identity policy must be people centered. Digital identity policy needs to be designed above all on a user-centric basis that prioritizes citizens’ needs and rights and puts individuals at the center of the process. People-centered means inclusive, voluntary, resilient, and intuitive for both institutions and people. 
  • Digital identity policy must foster empowerment. Digital identity that empowers companies, customers, clients, and citizens builds confidence in relationships, expands usage, and can promote public participation in community, government and political processes. It must be user-controlled, based on informed consent, and allow for data portability. 
  • Digital identity policy must encourage trust through governance. People gain confidence in services when the functioning and governance of the service is transparent and understandable. Digital identity policy must be transparent, accountable, secure, and future-proofed. 

Keys to a socially accepted digital identity

This report focuses on the perception and the impact of a digital identity on different groups within society. It lists the characteristics to maximize the benefits of a digital identity for citizens and companies. One core measure includes reducing the amount of information disclosed, and protecting, when possible, the anonymity of the user.  

“Digital identity is a solution to societal issues. For instance, an effective protection of minors requires their identification and the supervision of their access to online services and content. This cannot be done at the expense of the strict respect for privacy. Thanks to the principle of data minimisation, digital identity meets this challenge” said Eric Salobir, President of the Human Technology Foundation.

A public-private cooperation 

The report reflects the belief that governments and private sector entities must deeply engage in fast-reacting and smart policy-making on digital identity. It also addresses the issue of including the private sector in the processes,  and the elements of governance that can build public trust. It highlights the need for extensive public engagement to inform on the digital transformation and promote inclusive and fair solutions that underpin trust in digital ecosystems as the digital economy continually develops and expands. 

“The risks of not moving ahead with the policy design needed to support transformation will include the loss of the strategic autonomy of the nation, worsening cyber security attacks, and failure to realize substantial economic growth potential,” said Eric Salobir, Human Technology Foundation President.

DIACC and HTF hope decision-makers in national and sub-national governments, along with private sector entities, will use the information herein as a tool to work urgently with all stakeholders to establish inclusive, privacy-protecting, and trustworthy digital identity related policies that empower individuals, businesses, the public sector, and civil society. 

About the Digital ID & Authentication Coalition of Canada (DIACC)

DIACC is a Canadian non-profit coalition of 100+ private and public sector organizations who are passionate about building a strong, trusted and interoperable identity ecosystem in Canada. Originating from Finance Canada’s task force recommendations on moving Canada into the digital age, DIACC delivered their first mandate to develop a digital identity and authentication framework — now known as the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework (PCTF). Today, DIACC continues to serve Canadians by driving the adoption of the PCTF that defines a duty of care that citizens, clients and customers should expect while using modernized digital services. This defined duty of care puts people’s benefits at the center while enabling adopters to verify their practice.

About the Human Technology Foundation (HTF)

Created in 2012, HTF is a network of several thousand members that operates in Paris, Montreal, Rome, Brussels and Geneva with the intention of placing the human being at the heart of technology development and putting technology back at the centre of social debates. HTF’s mission is to coordinate international multidisciplinary research projects and serve as an interface between academia, society, and the economy. For HTF members, technology must be part of the solution for building a society that is more respectful of everyone.

Download the paper here.