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DHS discusses difficulties of implementing mDLs

DHS discusses difficulties of implementing mDLs

The U.S. Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has published an article about the difficulties connected with the correct implementation of Mobile Driver’s Licenses (mDLs).

A component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the S&T post first highlights the importance of physical government-issued IDs, primarily driver’s licenses, to pass security checkpoints such as those found at airports staffed by agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The article then mentions mDLs, and how a project between S&T, TSA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will enable the use of this new form of digital ID, which offers enhanced security and ease of use.

Despite its advantages, however, S&T also says that the implementation of mDLs requires an ecosystem to support the provisioning, issuance, acceptance, and authentication of these digital IDs.

To this end, S&T’s Biometric and Identity Technology Center (BI-TC) is conducting industry studies to assess the integrity, risk, and trustworthiness of digital identities, including mDLs, for potential DHS acceptance and use.

In terms of issuance and use of driver’s licenses, the S&T article suggests a ‘Triangle of Trust Framework,’ composed of the issuing authority, the credential plus user, and the relying party (e.g. DHS, TSA).

Based on this model, TSA is now developing a system to authenticate mDL by using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) framework.

“The focus of this joint project is to build an ecosystem to implement mDLs,” said BI-TC Director Arun Vemury.

“Once this project is completed, we believe we will create a digital identity ecosystem that replicates and potentially improves upon today’s physical ID system.”

Some U.S. states are already accepting mDLs to prove drivers’ identities, with Apple officially launching support for the digital IDs in the Apple Wallet in Arizona last week. With provisioning left out of the ISO mDL standard, however, implementation details like how they are provisioned have prompted concerns about Apple’s deals with state governments creating vendor lock-in.

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