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Saskatchewan pauses plans for digital ID after backlash

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Following severe privacy concerns being raised, plans by the Canadian province of Saskatchewan to develop an optional digital identification system have been suspended.

The digital ID system would be an app like Apple Wallet. It would store driver’s licenses, health cards, and allow access to government services.

The development of the system was put on hold after privacy concerns were raised in the province’s legislature.

Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Nadine Wilson said: “Mr. Speaker, people want to know who the government is working with to implement an actual mass digital ID system that will link all of our personal information to one source.”

Jim Reiter, the minister for SaskBuilds expressed similar concerns, saying: “There’s enough people concerned about it that you know, protection of privacy is very important.”

Unified Grassroots’ Nadine Ness said she uses Apple Wallet but would not sign up for a government system.

“If it was something to kind of streamline things and make things easier I’d get it, but I also get why people wouldn’t want that. I don’t want that. Personally, I would never sign up for it,” Ness said.

However, some were surprised that the government decided to put the system on hold.

“This is a project that deserves scrutiny and oversight, especially considering how long the government has been working on it and to see it canceled all of a sudden certainly was a surprise,” said MLA Alena Young of the New Democratic Party.

In early 2020, Saskatchewan’s government issued requests for proposals to tech companies for the development of a digital ID system. The cost estimates were in the millions of dollars.

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