Changing the Identity Paradigm to Prevent Identity Fraud

Our guest blogger today is Guy Huntington. Guy is an expert identity architect and has worked on a large number of high profile identity fraud and identity management programs including Government of Alberta’s Digital Citizen Identity and Authentication Program.

Preventing Identity Fraud

How Governments Can Prevent Identity Fraud

Changing the Identity Paradigm

Identity verification and the prevention of identity fraud is more important than ever as federal, state/provincial and municipal governments move towards online delivery of citizen services such as taxes, licensing, election registrations and voting, health records, and much more. 

As more online citizen services continue to be offered, we need to ensure the identity is verified to reduce identity fraud.


Current Identity Problems

Our current systems of identity verification are flawed and open to identity fraud.

For example:


  • Weak identity verification

We currently use weak identity assurance practices to verify our identities.  Paper-based birth certificates (known as “breeder documents” in security circles) are commonly used for identity verification.   Unfortunately birth certificates can be easily forged to obtain other documents higher up in the identity food chain such a driver’s license or passport.


  • Identity control

We lose control of our identity on a daily basis by submitting the same identity information over and over again to gain access to online services.


  • Inability to easily act anonymously

We use one type of document, such as a driver’s license to prove our age, but it also has our name and address on it.


  • Human cloning

    New age digital birth, name/gender change, marriage and death certificates are a solution to identity verification and the prevention of identity fraud.   At birth, a digital birth certificate would be created using blockchain technology/Sovrin with biometrics obtained from the infant.

    The advantages of a digital birth certificate are that an individual would use the digital certificate throughout their lifetime to authenticate their identity and prevent fraud.  Identity control is now securely in the control of the individual, or parent/legal guardian.  Business and government would be able to rapidly authenticate an individual’s identity since biometrics in combination with blockchain technology provides the information creating the digital birth certificate.

Identity Authentication Solutions

An Example: Estonia Using Digital Identity Cards

Estonia flag


Through the Identity Documents Act created in 2000, Estonia has been issuing identity cards to citizens (over the age of 15).  The government of Estonia now offers over 1,000 online services to their citizens!  They also offer digital signatures to their citizens which results in most documents are digitally signed.  However, their system can’t differentiate between clones and relies upon paper-based birth certificates to verify the identity before then obtaining their biometrics.


Next Steps

Here’s where federal, state/provincial and municipal entities need to focus attention to create a new system of identity management and authentication for the prevention of identity fraud:


  • Rethink our civil registration systems

  • More research on baby fingerprints[1] as well as biometric differentiation between humans beings and, even, clones

  • Leveraging the use of blockchain and/or the Sovrin Network identity platform

  • Creation of secure data centers to store civil registration data and biometrics. As well as security for traditional disasters such as flood, earthquake and tornados, we should also consider the possibility of electromagnetic pulse disasters

  • New biometric readers, data entry and telecommunication devices

  • Legislation setting out the conditions under which other countries may search for an individual’s identity who claims they have been missed in a civil registration process to see if they exist in the another country’s registration system

  • New laws and regulations concerning biometrics, privacy, consent and civil registration

In short, it’s creating a new identity paradigm.  It’s not a simple tweak and twiddle of the existing identity documents and processes used today.