Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), announced on January 2, 2023 that the province will be rolling out a “digital version of the government ID”.
It will allow citizens to confirm their identity and age with minimal personal data. Sarah Stoodley gives the example of a citizen wishing to purchase alcohol. To prove his age, he has to present a physical card. This card contains, in addition to his photo and age, other information: name, date of birth, address, or ID number.
“That’s a lot of information. All we really need to see is the photo and for the government to give us the green light to buy alcohol,” she says.
The digital card, which is currently being designed, will allow this simplification. It would take the form of an application for mobile terminals, similar to the Canadian vaccine passport. This digital identity will also allow access to online government services. The program would be voluntary and would not mean the end of physical cards.
In October 2022, the provincial privacy commissioners of NL called on the government to be vigilant on this very issue. The new “digital identity ecosystem in Canada” must remain voluntary, they said. Nor should it force citizens to identify themselves when it is not necessary.
The Commissioners emphasized that the data collected should be kept to a minimum, and that a high level of cyber protection should be provided.