How do Mobile Driver’s Licenses work and when will I receive one?

In today’s digital world we expect to be able to access goods and services quickly and easily from our devices. While we once had to sit at home to watch our favourite TV shows for example, now we have an app, like Netflix, on our smartphones to view programmes much more conveniently. The same is also true in a variety of other instances including online shopping, tickets, and banking. And, with half the world now owning a smartphone, more and more traditionally paper documents are also now going digital. 

One of the most promising developments of digital identity documents is the creation and adoption of mobile driver’s licenses – with a number of big names in the technology world supporting the idea and starting to help build the infrastructure needed, such as Apple. Reportedly, the feature will become available in the states that support it with the introduction of iOS 15 in early 2022

No longer having to worry about bringing your plastic license with you everywhere may fill you with joy, especially if you’re constantly having to prove your age, but understanding how the technology works with regards to the privacy of your personal data is also important. We explore this below.

How do they work?

To get your mobile driver’s license on your smartphone first you need to open the app and scan the front and back of your physical driver’s license. Then you’ll need to verify if it’s really your license by taking a selfie. Once the issuing state confirms your credentials match you should be able prove your age at a bar or show your license is valid to a law enforcement official, all by flashing your phone or tapping your phone on an identity reader. 

Mobile driver’s licenses are designed with privacy in mind. Rather than handing over your physical license, which contains your full address, a mobile license allows you to only share the information required to confirm your over the legal drinking age, for example. This can either be completely concealed by scanning a QR code or by showing a tick next to your name if you are over 18 and 21.

Users also don’t need to unlock or hand over their device to present their ID. In the case of the Apple Wallet App, for instance, customers will see a prompt on their device displaying exactly what identification information is being requested and can confirm they are happy by using Face ID or Touch ID. Only then is the information released from their device.

When will you get yours?

The answer to this question depends upon where you live – residents of Arizona, Delaware, and Oklahoma, for example, can already use license apps developed in partnership with Idemia to verify their identity. This, however, is set to expand further and if you’re based in the US and live in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, or Utah you’ll be able to store your mobile driver’s license in your Apple wallet once your state gives the go ahead following the roll out of iOS15. 

Other States, including Florida, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, and Nevada have also signaled their support for the implementation of some form of mobile driver’s license network – although these are likely to be introduced in a few years’ time. Ultimately, the goal is to offer these digital IDs nationwide but the timeframe for when this is likely to happen is unclear. 

TSA security points in participating US airports will be the first locations where users will be able to present their mobile driver’s license in the Wallet App. 

Elsewhere in the world, the EU is drafting comprehensive legislation for the creation of a European Digital Identity Wallet, which would store a mobile driver’s license for citizens in the bloc. The hope is that this legislation will be ready by October 2022, so that countries in the EU can begin their own pilot projects shortly after.

Are you excited to be able to use a mobile driver’s license? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1

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