US mobile driver’s licenses advancing to more states, agencies, applications

REAL ID deadline extended to 2023
US mobile driver’s licenses advancing to more states, agencies, applications

The list of U.S. states to launch mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) is growing rapidly, with five implemented already and three more official digital IDs on the way by the beginning of next year, by the Associated Press’ count.

Utah, Iowa and Florida are expected to implement mDLs soon, with the apps storing the credential protected by passwords or on-device biometrics.

The projects were already in progress prior to the pandemic, but the adoption of contactless digital identification methods may have been sped up by a decade, AP reports.

“Most people want some kind of a hard token for their identity, but I don’t know how long that will last,” Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum told AP. “I would imagine that at some point, maybe in a generation, maybe less, that people will accept a fully digital system.”

National Motorists Association spokesperson Shelia Dunn Joneleit says digitizing the credential introduces the risk of hacking, and points out that not all Americans own smartphones, and suggested people should not have to hand over their phones to the police, which would potentially violate Fourth Amendment rights. The comments reveal a need for public education more than a rights risk, however as mobile driver’s licenses do not require individuals to hand their phones to police to present their identification.

The article quotes an Idemia representative making the case for cryptographic verification as a stronger method of digital identity proofing.

Utah’s mDL is being produced by GET Group North America, while Idemia is providing mDL solutions to Oklahoma, Delaware and Arizona.

Colorado and Louisiana had previously developed digital ID apps, but they do not follow REAL ID standards.

REAL ID deadline extended to 2023

REAL ID compliance has been an ongoing issue for several states, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has now announced an extension of the deadline for the federal ID documents standard’s implementation.

The deadline has been extended from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023, due to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the new deadline, only driver’s licenses which are REAL ID compliant will be considered valid identity documents for domestic U.S. air travel.

All 50 states and four out of five U.S. territories are now issuing REAL ID compliant licenses, but only 43 percent of all state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards meet the standard.

In comments to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security reported by Homeland Security Today, senior TSA official Darby LaJoye said that the agency wants REAL ID issuance closer to 90 percent to avoid disrupting airport operations.

DHS and states also need time to make other changes mandated by the REAL ID Modernization Act, including for allowing the submission of digital documents.

LaJoye also noted that the TSA has deployed 1,053 credential authentication technology (CAT) units to 121 locations, and expects to deploy another 1,001 in the next several months. Deployment of the devices, made by Idemia, accelerated during the pandemic.

Louisiana adds vaccination credential, Colorado expands accepting agencies

Louisiana’s LA Wallet app has added an optional COVID-19 vaccination credential feature to provide digital verification of their immunity status, the Governor’s Office announced.

The LA Wallet is available for free through the Apple App and Google Play stores as the State’s Digital Driver’s License app.

Colorado, meanwhile, has expanded the list of local law enforcement agencies accepting its mDL to include 14 new police departments.

Colorado Springs and Vail Police Departments are among those now accepting the myColorado mobile app for identity verification, as well as proof of age and address during traffic stops.

The mDL is already accepted by Colorado State Patrol and the Denver Police Department, among more than 425 restaurants, bars, businesses and state agencies.

“The Denver Police Department embraces technology for improving efficiency and safety,” says Denver Police Department Chief Paul M. Pazen in the announcement. “The Colorado Digital ID allows for contactless verification of users’ identification, which helps to keep officers and individuals safe and healthy amid the ongoing pandemic.”

More than 135,000 Coloradans have downloaded the app, though state residents are advised to carry their physical license until the Colorado Digital ID is universally accepted across all state and local jurisdictions.

Thales Vice-President Identity and Verification Steve Purdy explained the current state and opportunity of mDLs in a recent Biometric Update guest post.

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