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Apple proposes biometric authentication for digital ID document access in patent application


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Apple is working on how to secure digital identity credentials like mobile drivers’ licenses and digital travel credentials, held on its mobile devices and shared through biometrics.

A published patent application details the use of secure enclaves to store digital identity credentials, much as they are used to store biometric data, and controlled methods of providing those credentials.

Drivers’ licenses, passports and other ID documents may be going digital, Apple acknowledges in the background of the patent filing, necessitating a change in the way they are shared.

The patent filing for ‘Controlled Identity Credential Release’ describes the use of one particular biometric modality among “a plurality” to authenticate the user for the purpose of sharing the credential. Multiple ways of sharing the credential are discussed, including showing it on the device’s locked screen or transmitting data to terminals, such as those used in airports, wirelessly.

The patent application also notes the possibility of credentials being shared without authenticating the user in certain situations, such as if a first responder finds a person unconscious. In some situations, only a portion of the information contained by the credential could be shared, such as a name and date of birth for proving age, or even a simple yes or no answer in response to a specific digital query.

Biometrics are also discussed in the filing for completing identity verification involving external systems, such as border control databases.

Two of the inventors listed in the application are also listed in a related patent application published earlier this year on ‘Providing Verified Claims of User Identity’ from mobile devices to replace physical credentials.

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