Whether we like it or not, it seems inevitable that vaccine passports are here to stay. If we wish to travel outside Canadian borders, many countries already require proof of our vaccination status before even setting foot on their soil. Similarly, an increasing number of workplaces, schools, and other facilities are beginning to set firm mandates that only fully vaccinated persons can enjoy their premises.
So while some provinces have already announced introducing vaccine passports, others such as Ontario had been more reluctant. Numerous internet memes have joked that we already have a vaccine passport system - Ontarians of a certain age grew up with their parents or guardians possessing tattered yellow cards that noted their status on the mandatory immunizations to enroll in school. Why, then, is there such reluctance towards a digital vaccine passport today?
The answer lies in fear over digital identity. There’s an overarching concern that because we digitize something, we’ve automatically stripped away layers of security that previously existed with paper records. Without fully understanding digital identities or how they work, people mistakenly hold strong beliefs that their identity is susceptible to being stolen and misused by foreign entities or other nefarious actors. These same individuals may not give a second thought to forgetting their purse or wallet in places, thus losing everything from their driver’s license to their social insurance card.
It is important to separate fact from fiction, and understanding the many benefits of digital identity goes a long way to doing so.
If you have spent your life carrying plastic identity cards of various forms, it is easy to forget how many individuals have not been able to do the same. In fact, Forbes recently reported that nearly a billion people around the world have no concrete way to prove their identities, leaving government services such as health care and education difficult to access. Even in Ontario, people who have difficulty accessing a physical Service Canada or Service Ontario location, whether due to mobility issues, poverty, or another barrier, may simply not possess the ID that so many of us take for granted.
Digital identity helps ease that concern. Anyone can have one, and that electronic registration makes it that much easier for individuals to prove their identity in order to access essential services. A digital ID can also make it easier to access private services, such as financial institutions, which can be difficult to penetrate without physical pieces of identification.
As a consumer, we often do not think about the amount of effort that goes into identity verification. In the banking world, for example, identity fraud is a key concern when it comes to financial crime. Significant resources are deployed, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, to verify client’s identities on a regular basis and ensure that funds are not falling into the wrong hands.
While those behind-the-scenes operations are rarely seen by the general public, they can make it tedious and difficult for customers trying to deal with banks. Surveys of customers using digital identities, in other countries, have found that the quality of the customer experience improves significantly when they are being used.
There is, of course, a lack of public trust in North America over digital identities. News media is constantly presenting stories of large-scale corporate data breaches, election fraud by foreign actors, and computer viruses that can overthrow even the most popular IT companies. There is a misconception that, so long as we avoid giving away too much personal information online, we will be able to avoid things such as credit card fraud and digital piracy.
This is based on a commonly mistaken premise. With the amount of personal information on digital networks, almost all of us have a surprising amount of our lives somewhere ‘in the cloud.’ When it comes to digital identities though, advancement in the technology being used to create decentralized identities offers more security and personal ownership than ever before. Technology allows us to encrypt an ID, so that it is only accessible by those who are authorized to use it, ensuring that the ID is secure.
Digital ID is clearly in our future, so there is much that we can learn by becoming more familiar and comfortable with the concept. Canadians are quick to worry about how their information is used or misused online, and at one time the concern may have been a more valid one.
Now though, the advances in security mean that digital ID is a safe and effective method of keeping track of our identities. Not only that, but widespread usage helps prevent costly financial fraud, which is a tremendous asset for economic stability. Perhaps most importantly though, a digital ID can help put all Canadians on an equal footing when it comes to accessing services, and ensure that no person falls through the cracks simply because they did not have the same access to government services as their neighbors.
At Vaultie, our mission is to keep your ID as secure as possible and then some. Our products are specifically designed to both encrypt your identification, and to doubly verify it in order to confirm that you’re the person behind the plastic. Curious about how it all works?
Contact us today to set up a demo.