May 26, 2015
Identity matching is tricky. I have been working on health-sector project recently where it really matters that the identity in one system matches the identity in another. When access to patient information is being managed, identity matters. A lot.
So when I boarded my flight today my ears perked up when the boarding agent asked his coworker “Mike, Michael. Okay, eh?” The coworker said she thought so and after checking a list of allowed first name synonyms I was free to board.
Of course, the issue here is that my flight was reserved under Mike and my government ID has my legal name Michael. The airline – fairly recently as far as I can tell – has created this list and added a double check before boarding.
Identity matching matters and I’m guessing we will see a lot more of this type of process implemented for transactions where a high level of assurance is needed.
September 17, 2013
In October 2008, I wrote a five part review of identity assurance, based on the framework contained in the Pan-Canadian Strategy for Identity Management and Authentication. At the time these blog posts were the only Canadian resource available for analyzing and planning identity assurance.
Since then a number of changes have occurred that have prompted me to update these posts. For example, an Assurance, Identity and Trust Working Group was established by the national Identity Management Steering Committee. This team prepared a report, the Pan-Canadian Assurance Model, that provides more guidance and detail than the original framework.
Having said this, the goal of the model remains unchanged; it strives to standardize identity assurance to allow for provincial and federal systems to interoperate. It is foundational to the broader Pan-Canadian framework, and is key to implementing citizen services across the country.
The identity assurance model is primarily concerned with establishing agreed-to levels of assurance and defining the concepts and terms each party need to understand. It has an emphasis on federation and looks to support risk management activities within partnering organizations.
The Pan-Canadian identity assurance model is represented as follows (click/tap to enlarge):
While this model is an important input into this blog post series, it needs to be supplemented by real-world experience. For each topic in the series, I will inject examples from my experience implementing IAM solutions over the past ten years, and provide insight into the opportunities and challenges offered by the model.
First in the series, click here for the post on Information Classification.
October 23, 2012
In my own city, Edmonton, they have been talking up e-voting for a while now. There was an announcement yesterday that a pilot project is being conducted to validate the process of running an online election. (More information can be found here and here.)
First of all, I think that this is exactly the type of pilot project that governments must run to be progressive and forward-thinking. These types of initiatives are high value, not just to validate a solution for this defined need, but for the organization’s other online initiatives. And the proposed e-voting identification process is an interesting one…
To be frank, I don’t have e-voting very high on my personal list of municipal problems to be solved, BUT I do have a keen interest in how people are identified online.
The City’s new project has an identity proofing process for this pilot project. It includes a unique method of collecting identity proofing documents that I haven’t seen before: citizens scan (or take a picture of) their real-world identification, then upload it to the City’s website. Allowed documents include drivers license, passport, Canadian military cards, etc. (see sidebar).
The image of the identification document is then reviewed manually by employees in the elections department and presumably compared to lists of eligible voters. Only when the document matches up with a previously registered voter will a credential be issued to the citizen for voting purposes.
This approach is convenient to citizens, or at least those that are savvy enough to scan a document and upload it to a website (which is probably a pretty high percentage of those that will consider online voting).
But whenever I see ‘convenience’ cited as a reason to do something online, I can’t help but look for the security and privacy compromises required to make that thing convenient. On first review (I haven’t done a deep dive s feel free to correct me!) here are a few things that might be compromised by such a process:
- How does the process ensure that the citizen is in control of the document at the time e-voting registration takes place? For example, the passports for a household might be stored in a filing cabinet. Let’s say one member of the household is politically active and the rest don’t vote at all. How difficult would it be for the one family member to round up the passports and create multiple e-voting credentials?
- There may be a privacy issue here. Scanned identification documents contain a payload of sensitive information. My passport has my legal name and birthdate — two attributes that are useful for the voter vetting process. But it also contains my passport number, my place of birth and my citizenship. None of these attributes are needed by this process, and should not be collected and stored as part of the process. (Update: The City’s 311 service has informed me that the data will be stored in Canada and destroyed no later than December 31, 2012. Also, only authorized personnel can view the data and they are subject to confidentiality agreements.)
- Finally, how can one be sure that the scanned identity document has not been digitally tampered with? Paper and plastic documents have physical safeguards to increase reliability. For example, the Alberta drivers license has a hologram on it and ‘declined width text wave’ feature (and these are just two of a dozen security features). How do these features translate to the scanned image? Assuming many of these features do not translate well, how well does the scan of the document actually prove the citizen’s identity? As a comparison, would such a scan, subsequently printed, be acceptable as ID at the polling station?
It will be interesting to see how these and other challenges of e-voting will be overcome in the coming months.
May 8, 2012
Instead of thinking of the digital data as something collected by others and somehow used against you, it becomes a mechanism for you to get companies to send you information about things you actually want to buy.
Wordle of blog.personal.com
Personal.com, located in the Washington, DC area, have built a personal data service that encourages users to enter personal information into Personal’s cloud-based vault. The service allows people to organize their data into ‘gems’, then send this information to family, friends and business associates. Here are some quick-hit videos that explain the company and the concept.
I have direct experience with personal data vaults and, frankly, the uptake on this type of service is currently poor. It may well be a generational thing, and perhaps time has to pass before enough people will trust a cloud service with their secrets.
But I think that the real obstacle for existing personal vaults may well be the current ‘user pay’ business model. People don’t see the value in a paid-for personal data service — but could they use a service that allows them to control and sell their own personal data?
Personal’s model anticipates a future where advertisers will seek out personal data from prospects and pay for the information. Personal is hoping to capitalize on this by becoming the broker for millions of personal data transactions, and take a percentage of the transaction fees as commissions. We — as rightful owners of the data — get the rest!
Is this the future of personal data? Are we seeing a move away from intrusive data collection for the service operator’s profit alone (the Google and Facebook models) to a world where we own, control and reap the benefits of our own information?
October 27, 2011
An important issue is being raised by our federal Privacy Commissioner around changes to legislation to combat online fraud and other crimes. These changes look to be more than cursory — they would potentially create a legal environment where law enforcement can implement excessive surveillance on Canadians.
To quote Jennifer Stoddart’s letter to Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety:
By expanding the legal tools of the state to conduct surveillance and access private information, and by reducing the depth of judicial scrutiny, the previous bills would have allowed government to subject more individuals to surveillance and scrutiny. In brief, these bills went far beyond simply maintaining investigative capacity or modernizing search powers. Rather, they added significant new capabilities for investigators to track, and search and seize digital information about individuals.
This is an important issue, one worth paying attention to over the coming months.
Update: See the Privacy Law blog’s post and an editorial from Ann Cavoukian, the privacy commissioner for Ontario.
October 17, 2011
(click on text to enlarge...)
I received my new driver’s license last week and found this information on the accompanying letter.
Good to see such direct advice — too bad it was on the back!