Apple and many states are making digital driver licenses a reality


The driver’s licenses stored on our phones are not too far down the road.

Arizona and Georgia residents will soon be able to use their iPhones and Apple Watches such as digital driver licenses or ID cards. People living in Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa, Utah, and Connecticut get the next part. Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will designate channels at specific ports to begin processing new digital IDs to clean up people who can travel.

If residents add their state ID to their Wallet, Apple explained in a press release on Wednesday, they will have to send a photo of their card and a photo of their faces, and they will also have to “Complete a series of face and head movements during the setup process. “It’s up to the states to verify the ID before people use it. In effect, this system acts as a new form of government-supported biometric ID support that goes beyond a regular photograph in a process that could potentially provide new data to state governments as well as Apple.

In the new TSA lines, for example, Apple users will be able to tap on their iPhones or Apple Watches into an identity reader. Also show them the information requested by the TSA and authorize their devices to send that data to the TSA by using Face ID or Touch ID. This, Apple says, “ensures that only the necessary information is shared and only the person who added the device’s driver’s license or state ID can display it.” The company added, “Users do not have to unlock, display, or hand over their device to show their ID.”

Apple isn’t the only one around digital driver licenses in the United States. New York State is working with IBM on the possibility of expanding the Excelsior Pass vaccine passport system to include driver’s licenses, according to a report in the New York Times. Also covered is the concept of federal government. In April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it was looking for input in future rules for mobile digital driver’s licenses.

But are digital IDs a good thing? From a privacy and security perspective, it’s not clear – but it’s also inevitable.

The pandemic has helped some people become more comfortable storing personal information on their phones, which may explain why states and tech companies are prioritizing the idea of ​​digital licensing. These efforts are surrounded by an ongoing and increasingly polarized debate about digital vaccination passport, which gives people a quick way to prove they are inoculated so they can do things like boarding a plane or going to a concert. Many states, including Florida and Texas, banned or banned vaccine passports, suggesting that some Americans are not yet comfortable storing certain personal information on their phones.

Even if the technology that drives them is the same in many ways, digital driver’s licenses aren’t the same thing as vaccine passports, because health records don’t have to be involved. Many of the plans and proposals under consideration – including Apple’s imminent digital licensing system – just call for a secure, verifiable way to store all the information currently on your physical license. driving your phone. Proponents of these digital state identification systems say this technology will make it more convenient to display your ID and give people more control over their information. Proponents of privacy and civil liberties warn that normalizing the carrying of identification cards on our phones could have adverse consequences, including endangering our digital privacy.

Despite apparent support at the state and federal levels, some are sounding the alarm over potential problems with digital IDs. In May, the American Civil Liberties Union released a detailed report raising issues about a digital state ID system, including concerns about police access to users ’phones, privacy, and surveillance risks, and the possibility that people will be forced to download government apps. The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project also won a contract revealing that the state of New York has more plans for its Excelsior Pass than it first revealed, which could expose the risks of similar digital ID programs.

“It’s hard to trust the claim from officials that these apps will only do X or Y,” Albert Fox Cahn, an attorney with the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, warned in June, pointing to Excelsior’s potential expansion Pass. “We saw this clear pattern when they were installed for one purpose and then expanded for others.”

Complete digital wallets are coming soon

The advent of digital IDs shows how tech companies are more willing to be involved in all the things you do with your physical wallet. IPhone and Android users can now store credit cards, plane tickets, and event tickets in digital wallets. Now, with the impending introduction of digital driver’s licenses, Apple is getting closer to making your physical wallet completely gone.

“To be completely free of your physical ID, there’s one more thing we need to bring with the iPhone, and that’s your ID. That’s why we carry identity cards in the Apple Wallet,” Apple Vice President Jennifer Bailey said of developer conference at the company on June 7. “Come on! Your ID information is already in the Wallet. ”

The federal government has shown support for the idea. As DHS sets new standards for the technology that drives digital IDs, the TSA is already partnering with Apple to receive a version of an iPhone-based digital ID that can be used at airports. Many states have previously set the standard and launched digital driver licenses that can be used with Apple Wallet (states are generally responsible for issuing US ID cards). In a statement Wednesday, Bailey said Apple has communications with other states and the company “is working to offer it nationwide in the future.”

Here’s what it looks like to put a driver’s license in Apple Wallet.
Apple

Apple isn’t the first or foremost tech company trying to bring digital IDs to smartphones. Google is also working on a system for a digital driver’s license, and last fall, the company detailed new privacy and security standards for developers manage identity documents on mobile devices. IBM also reviewed digital driver licenses and expressed enthusiasm for how they did it can rely on blockchain technology.

A French security company called Idemia has already launched digital IDs in partnership with several U.S. states, including Arizona and Oklahoma. The company argues that digital IDs are made to quickly verify a person’s identity, while also allowing a person to share little of their own information. For example in an app, users can choose to only share their age with someone who verifies that someone is old enough to buy alcohol without also sharing their address, Idemia explains its website.

The technology behind digital IDs is inevitably not the same as the technology behind vaccine passports. Opponents of vaccine passports, however, argue that the need for detailed health information to enter businesses and other public places is detrimental to people’s privacy and freedom. However, some states that ban vaccine passports primarily charge digital driver’s licenses.

In Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis banned vaccine passports, the DMV is IMMINENT launch this mobile state ID system soon, and in Texas, to whom state law prohibits the use of vaccine passports, legislators thinking of a pilot program for digital licenses. Iowa, which also limited the use of vaccine passports, also plans to launch a mobile ID system later this year. In Nevada, where vaccine passports will remain a controversial issue, Gov. Steve Sisolak in May formally registered digital licenses, and the DMV said they could come only for a few years.

In any case, it is clear that residents of many states can keep their driver’s license on their phone. What remains unclear is whether we will go for a country where there are 50 different digital driver licenses and 50 different opportunities for issues and problems.

Update, September 1, 2021: This piece is updated with new information about how Apple’s digital state ID works, including which states will first use the system.



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