Ontario launching digital ID program before the end of the year

Sep 9 2021, 8:44 am

The Government of Ontario plans to launch a digital identification program before the end of 2021.

The program will provide an electronic version of government ID, such as driver’s licences and health cards, offering Ontarians a “new and convenient” way to prove their identity.

According to the province, the digital IDs will offer “better safety, more security, and stronger privacy” than physical identification cards and documents.

The government has not revealed a specific date for the program’s launch, but noted that it will be introduced in late 2021.

“Digital ID is the foundation that will enable easier access to online services and make Ontario one of the world’s most digitally advanced jurisdictions, with a value for Ontarians, businesses, and the government that is estimated at $20  billion,” the province said.

Government of Ontario

Government of Ontario

How digital IDs will work

The digital IDs can be securely stored in wallet apps on smartphones and will let individuals and businesses prove who they are both in person and online.

If your phone is lost or stolen, your ID can be “turned off,” the province said, adding that use of the program will be optional—physical identification cards will not become obsolete.

The digital IDs will use a “self-sovereign identity trust model,” which gives the user control over their credentials.

Ontarians must give consent for someone to confirm their credentials, and a verifier can only access the details they need to confirm someone is eligible for their service.

An example given by the province is buying a lottery ticket: a clerk would only know that you are 18 years of age or older—not your actual age or date of birth.

The government noted that the digital IDs are not a tracking device, and that they will not keep track of where you have used your ID.

Government of Ontario

Where digital IDs could be used

The province has laid out a number of instances where digital IDs could potentially be used, including in health care, financial services, and business settings.

Individuals could use their digital ID to pick up a package at a post office, open a bank account, or make an age-sensitive purchase, such as alcohol.

Businesses may use the IDs to hire new employees or verify a customer’s identity.

“In late 2021 we will begin introducing digital ID to Ontarians,” the province said.

“We will be starting small, but digital ID will open up enormous opportunities for Ontario’s people and businesses.”

 

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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