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Apple and several states are making digital driver licenses a reality

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Apple and several states are making digital driver licenses a reality

Driver’s licenses stored on our phones are not far in the future.

Apple announced earlier this week that its Wallet app will be available this fall. expanded to include digital IDs of participating states. Meanwhile, New York State is working with IBM on the possibility of expanding its Excelsior Pass vaccine passport system to include driver’s licenses, according to a New York Times report. The federal government also agrees with the concept. In April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it was looking for entrance on the upcoming rules for mobile digital driver’s licenses.

But are digital IDs a good thing? Maybe not, but they also seem inevitable.

The pandemic has helped some people feel more comfortable storing personal information on their phones, which could explain why states and tech companies are moving forward with the idea of ​​digital driver’s licenses. These efforts are accompanied by an ongoing and highly polarizing debate on digital vaccine passports, which give people an easy way to prove they’ve been vaccinated so they can do things like board a plane or go to a concert. Various states, including Florida and Texas, have banned or restricted vaccine passports, suggesting that some Americans are still not comfortable storing certain highly personal information on their phones.

Although the technology that powers them is similar in many respects, digital driver’s licenses are not the same as vaccine passports, as your health records are not necessarily involved. Many of the plans and proposals being considered simply require a secure and verifiable way to store all the information that is currently on your physical driver’s license on your phone. Proponents of these digital state identification systems say this technology will make it more convenient to display your identification and give people more control over their information. Advocates for privacy and civil liberties warn that the standardization of carrying ID cards on our phones could have very bad consequences, even jeopardizing our digital privacy.

Despite apparent support at the state and federal level, some have sounded the alarm about potential problems with digital IDs. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union published a detailed report Raise 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 one day be forced to download government apps . The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project also secured a contract revealing that New York State has larger plans for its Excelsior Pass than it initially disclosed, which could reveal the risks of similar digital ID programs.

“It’s hard to trust officials’ claim that these apps are only going to do X or Y,” warns Albert Fox Cahn, attorney for the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, pointing to the potential expansion of Excelsior Pass. “We see this clear pattern that they are installed for one purpose and then expanded for another.”

Fully digital wallets are just around the corner

The advent of digital IDs shows how tech companies IMore and more you want to participate in all the things you do with your physical wallet. Both iPhone and Android users can now store credit cards, airline tickets, and event tickets in digital wallets. Now, with the imminent introduction of digital driver’s licenses, Apple is getting closer and closer to making your physical wallet completely obsolete.

“To be completely free of your physical identification, there is one more thing we must bring to the iPhone, and that is your identification. That’s why we bring identity cards to Apple Wallet, ”said Apple Vice President Jennifer Bailey at the company’s developer conference. June 7th. “It’s easy! Your identifying information is now in Wallet.”

The federal government seems to support the idea. While DHS is setting new standards for the technology that powers digital IDs, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is already working with Apple to accept a version of an iPhone-based digital ID that can be used at airports. . Several states are also laying the groundwork and launching digital driver’s licenses that could work with the Apple Wallet (states are generally responsible for issuing ID cards in the US).

Apple is not the first or the only major technology company trying to bring digital IDs to smartphones. Google has also been working on a system to digital driver’s licenseand last fall, the company detailed new privacy and security standards for developers to handle identity documents on mobile devices. IBM has also been researching digital driver licenses and expressed enthusiasm for how could depend on blockchain technology.

A French security company called Idemia has already launched digital IDs in partnership with several US states, including Arizona other Oklahoma. The company argues that digital IDs facilitate quick authentication of someone’s identity, while also allowing a person to share less personal information. With an app, for example, users can choose to share their age with someone who verifies that someone is old enough to buy alcohol without also sharing their address. Idem explains on his website.

The technology behind digital IDs is inevitably similar to the technology behind vaccine passports. However, those who oppose vaccine passports have argued that requiring detailed medical information to enter businesses and other public areas harms people’s privacy and freedom. However, some states that have banned vaccine passports are getting ahead with digital driver’s licenses.

In Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis has banned vaccine passports, the DMV is expected to launch its mobile state identification system soon, and in Texas, whose state legislature has restricted the use of vaccine passports, legislators are considering a pilot program for digital driver’s licenses. Iowa, which has also limited the use of vaccine passports, also plans to launch a mobile identification system later this year. In Nevada, where vaccine passports still a controversial topic, Governor Steve Sisolak formally signed the digital licenses last month, and the DMV says they could come within a few years.

In any case, it is clear that residents of various states will soon be able to store their driver’s license on their phone. What is not clear is whether we are heading to a country where there are 50 different digital driver’s licenses and 50 different opportunities for trouble and trouble.

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