Digital driver’s licenses are coming

Digital driver’s licenses are coming

2021-06-09 18:55:00
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Driving licenses stored on our phones are not far from the road.

Apple announced earlier this week that this fall will be the Wallet app extended with digital IDs of participating states. Meanwhile, New York State is working with IBM to expand its Excelsior Pass vaccine passport system to include driver's licenses. a report from the New York Times. The federal government also supports the concept. In April, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it was… looking for input about upcoming rules for mobile digital driving licenses.

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

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

While the technology that powers them is similar in many ways, digital driver's licenses are not the same as vaccine passports, as their medical records are not necessarily involved. Many of the plans and proposals under consideration simply call for a secure, verifiable way to store all the information currently on your physical driver's license on your phone. Proponents of these digital state identification systems say this technology will make it easier to show your ID and give people more control over their information. Privacy and civil liberties advocates warn that normalizing the wearing of identification cards on our phones could have very bad consequences, including endangering our digital privacy.

Despite clear support at the state and federal levels, some have raised the alarm about potential problems with digital IDs. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released a detailed report voicing concerns 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 has also won a contract showing New York State has bigger plans for its Excelsior Pass than 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, a lawyer with the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, pointing to the potential expansion of Excelsior Pass. "We see this clear pattern where 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 technology companies IWants to be more and more involved in everything you do with your physical wallet. Both iPhone and Android users can already 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 to making your physical wallet completely obsolete.

"To be completely free of your physical ID, there's one more thing we need to bring to iPhone, and that's your ID. That's why we're bringing IDs to Apple Wallet," said Apple Vice President Jennifer Bailey at the developer conference of the company on June 7. “It's so easy! Your ID details are now in Wallet.”

The federal government seems to support the idea. While DHS sets new standards for the technology that enables 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. used. Several states also explain the basics and rolls of digital driver's licenses that could work with Apple Wallet (states are generally responsible for issuing ID cards in the US).

Apple isn't the first or only major tech company trying to bring digital IDs to smartphones. Google has also been working on a system for a while digital driving license, and last fall the company worked out new privacy and security standards for developers dealing with identity documents on mobile devices. IBM has also researched digital driver's licenses and expressed enthusiasm for how they could rely on blockchain technology.

A French security company called Idemia has already launched digital IDs in partnership with several US states, including: Arizona and Oklahoma. The company states that digital IDs make it easier to quickly verify someone's identity, while also allowing a person to share less personal information. For example, an app allows users to choose to share only their age with someone checking if someone is old enough to buy alcohol without also sharing their address, Idem explains on her website.

The technology behind digital IDs is inevitably not dissimilar to the technology behind vaccine passports. However, opponents of vaccine passports have argued that requiring detailed health information to enter businesses and other public spaces hurts people's privacy and freedom. Nevertheless, some states that have banned vaccine passports are moving forward with digital driver's licenses.

in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis banned vaccine passports, the DMV is expected to launch its mobile states ID system soon, and in Texas, whose state legislature has restricted the use of vaccine passports, legislators is considering a pilot program for digital driving licenses. Iowa, which has also restricted the use of vaccine passports, also plans to launch a mobile ID system later this year. In Nevada, where vaccine passports remains a controversial issue, Gov. Steve Sisolak formally signed for digital licenses last month, and the DMV says they could arrive within a few years.

In any case, it's clear that residents of several states will soon be able to save their driver's licenses on their phones. What remains unclear is whether we are heading for a country where there are 50 different digital driver's licenses and 50 different possibilities for problems and problems.


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