2021 – a Year Like No Other, Except the Previous One


Airlines Trial COVID-19 Health Passports. As air travel continued to remain significantly subdued amid the pandemic, several airlines explored the idea of implementing some form of health verification process to get passengers into the skies again. Hong Kong Gets Identity Smart with ‘iAM Smart’. Hong Kong’s OGCIO (Office of the Government Chief Information Officer) announced the launch of iAM Smart, which provides all Hong Kong residents with a single digital identity and authentication method to conduct government and commercial transactions online.


Denmark Hopes COVID Passports Can Deliver a ‘Summer of Joy’. Denmark, which aims to have offered its whole population a vaccination by June, hopes to become the first nation in the world to roll out a COVID passport for foreign travel later this month. ICT is Changing Civil Data Capturing in SADC. A recent technical brief on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (APAI-CRVS) noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are increasingly using information and communications technology (ICT) to improve the capture of key citizen data such as births and deaths.


China Issues Health Status Passport. China’s newly launched vaccine passport, the International Travel Health Certificate (ITHC), is an international version of China’s year-old health code system that helped the country resume domestic travel after the initial COVID outbreak. France’s New National Identity Card. For the past three years, France has undertaken a process of modernising the national identity card, which was last updated in 1995. Now it’s time for the roll-out. The new card will be rolled out gradually. The roll out started on 15 March in the Oise department, then from 29 March, in Seine-Maritime and Reunion. The system will cover the whole of France by 2 August.


US Walks Back from Proof of Vaccination. Press Secretary Jen Psaki, at a White House press briefing on 6 April, was adamant in her response to the question ‘is there any thought being given to a federally organised vaccine passport of some kind?’ by answering that ‘the government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential’. Quantum Cryptography – is it Too Early to Panic? In this two-part exploration of quantum computing’s threat to cryptography, researcher Dr. Charlie Grover assessed the threat to current cryptographic schemes that algorithms running on quantum computers may pose.


Fault Lines Appearing in Harmonising Health Status Passports. As we moved towards the summer holiday season in the northern hemisphere, the position regarding acceptance of vaccination certificates and health status passports was unclear and fast moving; making the situation close to impossible to generalise. But some discernible trends were appearing along country, bloc, regional and international fault lines. German Government Launches SSI Pilot Scheme. One of the major weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic is the lack of a digital ID infrastructure. The German federal government is looking to fix that – starting with hotel check-ins.


WHO Announces Revised Scope for Smart Vaccination Certificates. The Smart Vaccination Certificate Secretariat expanded the scope of the initiative to develop guidance that includes SARS-CoV-2 testing and COVID-19 recovery status. Accordingly, the Smart Vaccination Certificate specification was renamed as the ‘Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates (DDCC)’ specification. Plans For a New European Digital Identity. The European Commission is promoting its proposal for a regulation that will amend the electronic identification, authentication and trust services (eIDAS) Regulation and establish a framework for a European Digital Identity.


EU COVID Passport Goes Live. As of 1 July 2021, all European Union citizens and residents, as well as specific categories of travellers from third party countries, were able to hold a COVID passport that allowed unrestricted travel throughout the Schengen Area on the grounds of health status. The scheme, in its current form, is set to run until 31 June 2022. FIDO Alliance Publishes User Experience Guidelines and Enhanced Standards. The FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance announced a set of user experience guidelines and new FIDO2 standards enhancements that will address enterprises’ unique authentication and device management needs with privacy-enhancing biometrics sign-in techniques.


ISO Standards for Secure Document Authentication. The recent release of a new ISO standard for product and document authentication (ISO 22383:2020) added to a library of ISO standards that were reviewed in this edition of ID & Secure Document News™ and June’s edition of its sister publication, Authentication News®. Australia Seeks Digital Health App Developer for COVID Vaccine Certificates. In a recent press briefing Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expects the country's vaccine certificates to come into the wallet app in August. He also said that the COVID digital vaccine certificates would be recognised internationally later in the year, enabling travel to and from the country.


VCI Launches SMART Health Card to US Residents. A public-private partnership of technology and healthcare companies called the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), which includes Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle and the Mayo Clinic, has created a verifiable digital proof of vaccination called the SMART Health Card. Germany Gets Busy with ID Upgrade and Mobile Releases. Following the recent redesign of the German national identity card, a mobile ID wallet app has been released and the digital proof of a driving licence issued.


Australia’s TDIF Expands Digital Identity Exchange Accreditation Scheme. Eftpos (electronic funds transfer at the point of sale) became the first accredited non-government operator of a digital identity exchange under the Australian federal government's Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF). The FCC Wants to Crack Down on SIM Swapping. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its proposed cybersecurity rules including an attempt to prevent the serious problem of SIM swapping—a common form of digital identity theft that is particularly difficult to protect against.


ISO Publishes New Standard for Mobile Driving Licences. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) published ISO/IEC 18013-5 which, amongst other things, specifies the interface between the Mobile Driving Licence (mDL) and mDL reader and the interface between the mDL reader and the issuing authority infrastructure. EU Investigating Private Key Leak in Forged COVID Passports. According to reports on ‘threatpost’, ‘BleepingComputer’ and other online platforms, the private key used to sign EU Digital COVID certificates has been leaked and is being circulated on messaging apps and online data breach marketplaces.


Identity Fraud in the Modern Era. Against a rise in the number and types of digital identity scams, this round-up of recent reports found that the one thing connecting physical and digital identity fraud is the range of technologies and approaches used by bad actors. Health Status Proof – Time to Step Up. The technical issues of standardisation and interoperability of health status proof passports are relatively insignificant compared to the hurdles created by lack of leadership.