The right-wing Ontario Party is trying to prevent the release of digital IDs in the province. To that end, the Party’s leadership are hoping to collect 20,000 signatures with a petition that asks the government to ban any version of a digital identity document.
The Ontario Party was founded in 2018, and is currently led by Derek Sloan, who served as a Member of Parliament for the federal Conservative party before transitioning to provincial politics. Sloan invoked the specter of China while discussing the petition, suggesting that any digital identity program would be akin to a social credit program that gives the government too much control over the personal lives of its citizens.
The problem, according to Sloan, is that the government could theoretically turn off someone’s identity if they disapprove of their actions. In doing so, they would make it virtually impossible for that person to access a wide range of public services in a future in which people use digital IDs instead of physical IDs in their day-to-day interactions.
To make his case, Sloan referred to the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act as a response to break up the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa. The government went on to freeze bank and cryptocurrency accounts, thereby cutting off the funding that the protestors would have needed to continue occupying the capital.
While there are legitimate privacy concerns when it comes to digital IDs, Sloan’s logic is a bit tenuous insofar as the government was still able to freeze bank accounts even though most people still use physical documents. The organizers of the Freedom Convoy are also facing multiple criminal charges for their activities during the protest.
The Ontario government spent much of 2021 laying the groundwork for a digital identity program that would allow people to store digital versions of physical documents like driver’s licenses or health cards in a secure wallet on a standard smartphone. The proposed scheme would be offered on an opt-in basis to ensure user consent, though Sloan claimed that China’s own social credit system was voluntary until it became mandatory.
The Ontario Party petition had just under 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday, April 5. Member of Provincial Parliament Rick Nicholls is planning to submit the petition to the legislature before the upcoming provincial election in June. Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Bluink released a digital identity app for Ontario residents back in March of 2020.
Source: Western Standard
(Originally posted on Mobile ID World)