Online passport applications and concerns of personal information
The Canadian government’s project to apply for a passport online has raised many questions about the security of personal information. In December 2020, the government signed a contract worth $1.5 million with IBM, to develop an online application that Canadians can use on their cell phone, tablets, or computers. The application will allow citizens to submit an application, pay the passport fees and upload their photo. Since July 2013, the Canadian passport program has been the responsibility of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC gave IBM Canada a three-month deadline to develop the application to be used for the Canadian passport application. Due to pandemic, IRCC issued only 897,401 passports last year, compared to 2.6 million passports in 2019. In addition, due to the delay in processing applications, the government was forced to extend the deadline for an expired passport for an additional two years. IRCC also confirmed that it is in charge of managing the personal information of applicants. At the same time, it is unclear how the government will verify the applicant’s photo. Neither the government nor IBM has indicated where the Canadian electronic data will be stored.