With a growing need for reliable methods to confirm digital identities and documents as the economy pivots online, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) has engaged the CIO Strategy Council to develop a technical specification that will bring widespread use of digital credentials a step closer.
Digital credentials are electronic representations of the physical certificates and IDs that enable the economy to function. Held in user-controlled digital wallets, they can include electronic versions of documents like plane tickets, driver’s licenses, university degrees and even certificates of incorporation for businesses. Their potential applications are almost endless. Digital credentials can be used to confirm identity when opening a bank account, provide professional qualifications to a potential employer, or prove health status when travelling. These applications are underpinned by technologies such as blockchain-based data registries and issuing and verifying systems that are collectively known as “digital trust services.”
In Canada, there is no way for third parties to verify or certify whether digital credentials and digital trust services meet the requirements of emerging standards, including those for interoperability, privacy and security. Canadians need to know that their digital credentials are safe, and small businesses need to know that governments are behind them. It is also important that Canada’s work on this topic is aligned with international best practices if Canada doesn’t want to be left behind.
The new technical specification will set minimum requirements to ensure that digital credentials and trust services are interoperable between businesses and governments and create a seamless experience for users. Once agreed upon, the requirements will form the basis of conformity assessment solutions to provide consumers with confidence when sharing their digital personal information.
Work on the technical specification has been jointly commissioned by SCC and Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). Working in partnership with the provinces, ISED is designing a National Digital Trust Service that will enable Canadians and organizations to easily issue, use and verify digital credentials when conducting digital transactions.
“Working virtually during the pandemic has underlined the importance of authentic, secure products and services in an increasingly digital world. In collaboration with the CIO Strategy Council, we are supporting the development and uptake of secure and reliable digital credentials by Canadians.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“We are pleased to be working with SCC and ISED to engage a wide range of stakeholders in developing this important technical specification. Get involved and help shape the future of digital credentials and trust services for Canadians.”
– Keith Jansa, Executive Director, CIO Strategy Council
“Standards and conformity to those standards are key in helping governments and businesses respond to emerging concerns and challenges such as privacy, digital trade and commerce, and exchange of data and assets. The technical specification will form the foundation of conformity assessments solutions and will bring clarity and structure to digital credentials and digital trust services in Canada.”
– Chantal Guay, Chief Executive Officer, SCC
The CIO Strategy Council’s standards-setting process is open by design and encourages participation from thought leaders, policy makers, commercial interests, academia and civil society groups from across Canada. Interested parties are invited to join the committee responsible for the development of the technical specification. Please contact Matthew MacNeil, Director of Standards and Technology: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the CIO Strategy Council
The CIO Strategy Council is Canada’s national forum that brings together the country’s most forward-thinking chief information officers and executive technology leaders to collectively mobilize on common digital priorities. Cutting across major sectors of the Canadian economy – public, private, and not for profit – the Council harnesses the collective expertise and action of Canada’s CIOs to accelerate Canada’s digital transformation. The CIO Strategy Council is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada and develops standards that support the data-driven economy. Learn more at ciostrategycouncil.com.
About the Standards Council of Canada
Established in 1970 as a federal Crown corporation, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is Canada’s voice on standards and accreditation on the national and international stage. SCC works closely with a vast network of partners to promote the development of effective and efficient standards that protect the health, safety and well-being of Canadians while helping businesses prosper. For more information, visit scc-ccn.ca.
CIO Strategy Council
Senior Director, Communications
Standards Council of Canada