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Apple throws its weight behind mobile driver’s licenses, negotiating with TSA


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Digital storage of state-issued ID documents on Apple devices has been unveiled by the tech giant at its annual developer event, Reuters reports, increasing the likelihood of widespread digital ID adoption among iPhone users.

Support for government ID storage within the Apple Wallet was announced at the online Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, though acceptance by public and private entities alike is uncertain at this point. Apple says it is in talks with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accept digital IDs stored in the Apple Wallet at airports.

The digital ID would be stored in encrypted format within the iPhone’s secure element, Cnet notes. The publication reviews the progress towards the establishment of mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) and other digital IDs by different states, noting that several states have begun work on mDLs, but not yet reached launches. Idemia is supporting Oklahoma’s, Arizona’s and Delaware’s efforts, while GET Group is supplying technology for Utah’s mDL and Thales is supporting Florida’s.

Thales Vice President of Identity and Verification Steve Purdy explored the progress and potential of mDLs in a recent Biometric Update guest post.

Apple specified only that state IDs stored within the Apple Wallet will be accepted in “participating states in the U.S.”

“Apple has taken some encouraging steps toward making digital identity more ubiquitous and easy for people to adopt,” Onfido VP of Strategy Yuelin Li told Biometric Update in an email. “Hopefully, this will spur all US states to accept and use digital forms of identity from their citizens, in turn, making it easier for people to access more digital services like banking, checking into a hotel, and, even one day, voting.”

“It will be interesting to see what approach Apple takes to validate whether a state-issued ID is real and how it plans to bind someone’s physical identity to their digital ID,” Li adds. “Another factor to consider is lost or compromised devices, and whether Apple will let third parties access this digital identity with the user’s permission – for example if you want to open a new bank account and need to provide a form of ID or rent a car or vacation home.”

New digital keys, and privacy protections for its cloud storage and email apps were also among the developments revealed.

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