Canada to launch new border security app that could go global

The federal government is embarking on a new pilot program that will allow people to cross borders faster if they create a digital profile filled with their personal information on their mobile devices.

The Known Traveller Digital Identity is a joint venture between the governments of Canada and the Netherlands, and will be tested first on travellers going between those countries. The plan is to have it ready for a wider global rollout by 2020.

The project announcement was made last month at the Davos World Economic Forum last month, but has mostly flown under the radar.

According to the World Economic Forum document outlining the program, international traveller arrivals are expected to jump from 1.2 billion in 2016 to 1.8 billion by 2030. This will increase risk and security requirements for the aviation and travel and tourism sectors.

Much similar to other trusted-traveller programs — such as Nexus that allow people quicker movement between Canada and the U.S. — the Known Traveller Digital Identity program will ask travellers for detailed personal information for pre-screening, including university education, bank statements and vaccination records.

Border expert Bill Anderson said security officials are keen to get people screened well before they pack their bags for a trip.

The pilot program will also make use of biometrics like retina and facial recognition for quicker traveller identification.

Technology company Accenture is helping develop the program. It said user information will be safeguarded and users will be able to decide whom they want to share their information with, and when, on a case-by-case basis.