SAME OLD STRATEGY
There is pushback in Canada against the introduction of digital ID programs - but proponents of these schemes are referring to criticism based on civil liberties and privacy concerns as, "digital ID misinformation." Reports to this effect are appearing, spurred by a petition launched by the Ontario Party, that calls for "zero tolerance" toward the implementation of such programs in the province. At the same time, IdentityNORTH - which says it brings together Canadian and global leaders to discuss "the big ideas and innovations" driving digital transformation - was holding its spring workshop. The petition, meanwhile, calls on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to prevent the planned introduction of a comprehensive Digital ID program, that would centralize citizens' personal, financial, business, medical, and social information, and assign each an ID number. In view of the fact that Canada's central banks, and others around the world, plan to also introduce their own digital currencies, these would eventually also become part of digital IDs, the Ontario Party warned. And that, in turn, spells trouble for civil liberties and privacy rights, creating "clear opportunities" for abuse by the authorities, the party believes. Surveillance and compelled behavior, the petition reads, "with access to basic resources as a tool of coercion, are ominous. They point toward progression to a dystopian communist Chinese-style 'social credit' system." Canada is a country that is still smarting from the events earlier in the year, when participants in peaceful protests got punished by the government by having their bank accounts frozen, among other punitive measures. However, participants in the IdentityNORTH workshop who spoke for local media don't seem to see any merit in worrying about having information critical for your entire life - and livelihood - accessible and controllable in a single, centralized place. To them, the problem is in finding and pushing the right message, better educating - and, better persuading - people that there is nothing to fear when it comes to digital IDs. Citizens are said to be prone to "misunderstanding" what these schemes really are, while the government could assuage their fears by doing things like promising - with a "how we used your information statement, like a bank statement" - that there would be no nefarious data linking and profile building. “Pushing more (government) digital services online lets people play around online, get used to using an online forum. And then you come in with, 'Now we can make it more private, secure,' and this is why you care," was the idea presented by Colleen Boldon, director of New Brunswick’s digital lab and digital ID programs.
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WANTS SPEECH REGULATION
The government of Australia’s New South Wales plans to test a whole-of-government digital ID program, which will allow residents to access services across all departments. The pilot project is part of the Service NSW app and will require face verifications as well as biometric liveness testing.
The government is currently looking for photo verification vendors and it is unclear when the pilot project will launch. To use the digital ID, a user will take a selfie, which will then be compared to photos the government has already collected for official documents such as driver’s licenses. According to local reports, the biometric data will eventually be used to access government services that require level three proofing. For services requiring proofing above level three, people will still be required to go to government offices. The point of the digital ID system is to provide residents with quality and effective services, and to make them “believe the NSW Government is easy to deal with.” The pilot program will be optional, and it will require participants to give their consent regularly.
Digital rights advocates are accusing the EU of working to create the world's biggest biometric surveillance infrastructure, thanks to a proposal known as "Prüm II." The original Prüm Convention was signed in 2005 by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain, outside of the EU's framework - but "open" to the bloc's other member countries, 14 out of 27 of which have since joined. The treaty is meant to increase cross-border cooperation in tackling crime and terrorism. What this has meant so far is that the parties to the treaty have been collecting, processing, and sharing data like fingerprints, DNA, information about owners of vehicles, and the like. But "Prüm II" is supposed to expand on this cooperation by making one significant addition: facial recognition data. And the scale at which the EU plans to use this highly controversial, from the human rights and privacy point of view, technology, is described in reports as "unprecedented," incorporating the faces of millions of people. The massive database would then be available to police in various countries across Europe to match against photos of suspects using facial recognition algorithms, in an automated process. The proposal was originally filed last year and aims to produce a European Parliament and EU Council regulation on automated data exchange between law enforcement in the bloc's member countries. As more and more details have been emerging, including through responses to freedom of information requests, rights activists have been getting more vocal in their criticism. European Digital Rights (EDRi) policy adviser Ella Jakubowska has been quoted by Wired as saying that what the EU is creating is "the most extensive biometric surveillance infrastructure that I think we will ever have seen in the world." The model the EU is going for here is known as retrospective facial recognition, as opposed to the "live" variety - where live images are compared to those in a police database. "Retrospective" means that the number of images that will be shared between police forces will come from a much wider variety of sources: surveillance cameras, social media, phones, and possibly even those taken from citizens' driving licenses. EU spokespeople claim that "a human will review potential matches," said the report.