Mastercard calls for unity as it prepares for digital ID

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Mastercard is calling for a global consumer digital identity bill of rights to be adopted by businesses, governments and regulators as it prepares to launch a digital ID management service later this year.

A recently released white paper by Mastercard outlines 10 fundamental principles digital identities. The bill of rights, as proposed by Mastercard, puts consumers in control of their identity, allows them to consent to who is able to access their identity as well as what is shared, governs identity interactions and calls for companies to hold any identity accessed to the highest levels of security and to use them only for legitimate, fair purposes.

“Managing digital identities has become increasingly important as the world has become more digital in every facet of consumer life. We are basically proposing a digital identity bill of rights that is consumer centric,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligent solutions at Mastercard.

In an era where companies such as Facebook and Google push the boundaries of privacy, use consumer data for their own benefit or the benefit of others such as Cambridge Analytica and regularly fail to adequately secure consumer identities such as last year’s Marriott, Equifax and Facebook data breaches demonstrate, the need for a digital identity bill of rights is very timely. In one incident at the start of April, 540 million records about Facebook users were publicly exposed on Amazon’s cloud computing service, CBS News reported.

“This is broader than just payments, and biometrics will play a major role. Since the problem is universal it will require a globally interoperable ecosystem,” added Bhalla. “Mastercard expects to launch a digital ID management service later this year to address this market need.”

One area that could greatly benefit from stronger identity protection standards is the expected transition of driver’s licenses and passports from physical documents to digital documents stored on a mobile device.

In July 2018, the state of Louisiana introduced the first digital driver’s license program in the U.S. To obtain a digital driver’s license Louisiana motorists first need to download the LA Wallet app, which sets up the process. After paying a $5.99 activation fee, motorists will have access to a digital version of their drivers license — allowing them to leave the plastic license at home.

According to Government Technology magazine, in the first six months of release about 77,000 consumers have downloaded the LA Wallet digital app to their phone and just over half (about 41,000) have paid the $5.99 activation fee to access their digital driver’s license onto their smartphone.

While European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has made significant progress in strengthening data security standards, it does not go far enough and creates compliance challenges, according to Mastercard.

“What we are proposing is a consumer centric model, and the technology exists today to enable it," Bhalla said. "This will be universally useful to all consumers because it is identity proof on your mobile device.”

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Digital ID Data security Cyber security Personally identifiable information Mastercard