Oct 31, 2023 in News, Papers & Projects, Press Releases by DIACC

Securing Canada’s Digital Prosperity: Building Trust in Verification and Credentials Is a Shared Imperative

TORONTO, OCTOBER 31st, 2023 — There is a public trust gap in adopting digital trust capabilities that governments must close together with the private sector to amplify Canadian priorities in the global digital economy, according to a new report from DIACC.

Digital trust tools help verify a person or organization’s identity to enhance privacy, security, and transparency using people-centred design to operate digital credentials, digital wallets, networks, and modern authentication. 

The report, Committed to Building Trust Together, found no strong call to action from the public to advance digital trust even though Canadians are increasingly frustrated by online scams and identity theft, among other high-profile security and data breaches that affect them. The lack of vocal public demand for digital trust is partly due to a need for education about what it is and, most importantly, how it can benefit and improve their lives.

“Hesitancy is often rooted in data privacy, security, and potential misuse of personal information concerns. People should rightly be concerned because there are often no easily understood rules around where their personal data lives, who owns it, or how others use it,” said Joni Brennan, president of the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC). “In today’s digital world, trust remains at a premium, and the importance of identity verification is at an all-time high.”

Digital trust capabilities are critical — and long overdue — to support a secure and inclusive digital economy and society. From more efficient business tasks that save millions of dollars to getting the proper health records and making it easier to buy a house or board a plane, privacy and personal data control are potent tools that can help safely confirm a person’s identity. 

The report follows two Public Trust Forum sessions that brought together members from academia, non-profit organizations, private sector companies and provincial and territorial governments. Participants spoke in-depth about the challenges, opportunities, and considerations for creating the conditions to enable made-in-Canada solutions.

Public Trust Forum participants reached a consensus on the following key takeaways:

  • There will never be a universal consensus on acceptance of digital trust capabilities. Universal acceptance should not be the goal.
  • Use of government-issued digital credentials must be voluntary. People must have the choice to opt-out, as they can opt-out in the private sector.
  • There’s no strong call to action from the public to advance digital trust. There is a need for education about digital trust and, most importantly, how it can benefit and improve people’s lives.
  • An effective communications strategy should focus on real-life success stories in different use cases. That means practical examples of how digital trust capabilities improve service delivery, such as in the aviation and financial sectors.
  • Though it’s been around for a long time, the term “digital identity” may hinder the public’s understanding.
  • Terms such as “verify,” “authenticate,” or “credentials” may make it easier for those who are unsure about new technologies to see the benefits.
  • DON’T abandon the term “digital identity.” It’s a profession and a globally recognized definition; its use will depend on the audience and situation.
  • Jurisdictionally, with Canadian news removed from popular social media platforms, there may be a vacuum to spread mis and disinformation regarding digital modernization.

DIACC made five recommendations that all organizations should prioritize to inform public dialogue and build trust.

  1. Don’t wait for a universal public consensus on adopting digital trust capabilities because it will never come. Commit and message that public adoption is voluntary. Individuals may choose to use digital trust services or not.
  2. Make significant public education investments at municipal, provincial and federal levels and the private sector to inform the public about well-designed capabilities. Focus on easy use cases (i.e., digital parking or bus passes, obtaining a business licence).
  3. Reduce the temperature by moving public messaging away from the confusing term “digital identity” in certain situations. Terms like “verify,” “authenticate,” and “credential” are more easily understood.
  4. Communicate public safety importance as scenarios where digital services reduce response pressure and help get resources faster to those in need. Pandemic-related personal safety concerns accelerated the demand for modern digital services.
  5. Break transformation down into manageable outcomes rather than trying to boil the ocean with a national or universal strategy.

“The bottom line is that organizations and governments must prioritize transparency, robust data protection measures, and ethical data usage while actively engaging with the public to address concerns and ensure that digital trust capabilities are developed and implemented to protect and enhance individual privacy and security and support organizations’ operational needs,” Brennan said. “Establishing safe and convenient use of digital ID services means establishing trust. People must have confidence and control over their identity data, and on the flip side, they must have evidence that their privacy, security and choices are secured.”

“Citizens and residents vocalize their frustrations with services that aren’t’ modernized, and they’re looking to governments and the private sector to lead the way in the global digital economy collaboratively,” said Giselle D’Paiva, Partner, Government & Public Sector, Deloitte.

“Trust is local, and designing made-in-Canada solutions for digital access and verification will help build consumer confidence, trust, and broad adoption,” said Neil Butters, VP of Product, Interac Verified.

“Securing digital trust for the supply chain and global digital economy depends on local and international leadership and collaboration to advance frameworks and standards that ensure broad benefits,” said Don Cuthbertson, Chief Executive Officer of Portage CyberTech. 

“We’re working to help the public understand that global standards increase trust, reduce fraud and make it safer and more convenient for our customers to transact,” said Marie Jordan, Senior Director at VISA, Global Standards and Industry Engagement. 

DIACC will reconvene the Public Trust Forum at intervals to review what’s transpired since the last forum, address critical thematic developments, and continue public literacy research to pinpoint how perception evolves among the public.

Download the executive summary.


Download the full report.


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Established in 2012, DIACC is a non-profit organization of public and private sector members committed to advancing full and beneficial participation in the global digital economy by promoting adoption and establishing a certification framework to verify the assurance and trust practices of services. DIACC prioritizes personal data control, privacy, security, accountability, and inclusive people-centred design.