Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Cost of Canada's Digital Identification Partnership with the World Economic Forum

Back in August 2022, I posted this missive on the Known Traveller Digital Identity or KTDI which was launched in 2015 by the following cast of characters as I noted then:


"Airports Council International, Amadeus, Google, International Air Transport Association, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Criminal Police organization (INTERPOL), Marriott International, Mexico National Migration Institute, NEC Corporation, SAP Concur, Sedicci, UK National Crime Agency - United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Homeland Security, Visa Inc., World Travel & Tourism Council, World Tourism Organization and Zurich Insurance Group."


In January 2018, the Governments of Canada and The Netherlands committed formed a pilot group to drive and pilot the KTDI concept in collaboration with private sector partners which includes the following:


Given the World Economic Forum's fixation with digital identification, their presence as a partner in this initiative should surprise no one as we cab see in this article found on the WEF website:


...which notes the following five reasons for implementing digital identification:


1.) To prepare for emerging regulation


2.) To be able to hire, manage and trust digital workforces


3.) To build better experiences with customers


4.) To support seamless travel.  Since it is pertinent to this posting, here's more detail on that aspect:


"The travel industry has been hugely disrupted by the effects of the pandemic. The airline industry has seen a drop in revenue of more than $370 billion in 2020 alone and it is not expected to recover until 2024 at the earliest. It is estimated that the global economy has lost more than $4 trillion during 2020 and 2021.


As the industry does recover, enabling passengers to have a digital identity that is widely accepted across the travel ecosystem would support seamless travel, reducing friction and inefficiencies for all involved. It could also help accelerate touchless borders and increase travel by allowing verifiable identity data such as health status to be shared in advance of travel. This could reduce processing time and resources for the industry."


5.) To reduce the cost and risk of identity fraud


The timeline for the KTDI pilot project was scheduled for testing internally throughout 2019 with the goal of completing the first end-to-end journey during the first quarter of 2020, just as the pandemic decimated the travel industry.  At the time of its conception, the pilot project was quite limited, including up to 10,000 passenger end-to-end trips facilitated by KTDI and would have operated on Air Canada and KLM flights between Canada's Toronto Pearson and Montreal Trudeau International airports and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. 


Here's a screen capture from the WEF's website which outlines its vision for KTDI:

...noting that its partner Accenture is an information technology services company which has business interests in the implementation of digital identification as you can read about at this link:


Accenture is also a key player at the WEF as shown here:



...and is a member of the WEF as you can see on this listing:



In its White Paper on KTDI, the WEF states the following:


"The ecosystem of digital travel solutions and approaches has significantly expanded since the inception of KTDI, with decentralized identity, biometrics and decentralized ledger technologies becoming more widespread and increasingly referenced in leading industry policy guidance and frameworks. 


The success of any public-private travel ecosystem relies on robust government leadership and action, effective intergovernmental collaboration and participation by multiple private-sector partners and international organizations, with a strong focus on serving the traveller at the centre. The World Economic Forum and KTDI partners are committed to promoting such multistakeholder collaboration, which is needed in an increasingly complex and rapidly evolving travel ecosystem.


KTDI’s vision is to achieve global collaboration between partner organizations interested in working together on globally trusted digital credentials that are widely accepted, interoperable and adopted across sectors and borders and by travellers themselves. The Forum and its KTDI partners invite interested stakeholders who share a similar vision to explore further collaboration and shape the future of secure and seamless travel."


Here's a graphic which shows a possible template for a digital travel identity; 


Given that the World Economic Forum's backers are among the world's largest and most influential corporations and their leaders are among the wealthiest humans, one might wonder how KTDI was funded.  Look no further.  Here is the request for information made in June 2022 by Canadian Conservative MP Dr. Leslyn Lewis, focussing on Part (i) which I have highlighted:



Here's how much the implementation of the initial phases of the KTDI pilot project was expected to cost Canadian taxpayers:


Let's put this into context.  While the implementation of a digital identification for travellers would provide significant financial benefits to companies like Accenture (and other companies in the same ecosytem like Microsoft etcetera), the Trudeau government was only too willing to spend a minimum of $105.3 million of taxpayers' hard-earned dollars in an attempt to prove to the WEF that it was a big player in the digital identity world and that it was quite willing to spend this money even though the  full implementation of a KTDI-style program would prove to be highly profitable for the technology sector, it's executives and its shareholders.  

Perhaps this had something to do with the Trudeau government's decision to fund a digital identification program:

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