Government funding bill allows digital driver’s licenses as real identity


Written by Benjamin Freed

With the deadline set by the federal government to apply its real identification standards on Transportation Security Agency lines at airports and other checkpoints approaching next October, the massive spending envelope approved by the Congress Monday Night contains language that will authorize the digital driver’s licenses that some states have started issuing.

the 5,573-page invoice, which has crossed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming margins, clarifies that non-physical versions of driver’s licenses and other state-issued identification will be considered valid when identity application actual will begin, closing a legal issue in states that have deployed digital licensing. In the new language, the Real ID Act of 2005, a post 9/11 law designed to create federal standards for personal identification documents, will expand its definition of state government issued identification to allow “Driver’s licenses stored or viewed by electronic means, such as mobile or digital driver’s licenses.

Several states have implemented digital ID programs, perhaps more aggressively Louisiana, which earlier this year removed fees for its residents to access its LA Wallet app, and Colorado, which made Virtual driver’s licenses the cornerstone of its myColorado digital services application. Wyoming, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are among a growing list of states to also explore digital licensing in recent years.

Actual identification rules were due to go into effect on October 1, but were delayed for a year as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the temporary shutdown of motor vehicle agencies in most states, preventing residents from applying new licenses.

But as each state has updated their physical licenses to meet new federal government requirements – which include a person’s full legal name, date of birth, signature, digitally captured photo, machine readability and security features designed to prevent tampering or counterfeiting – digital licenses have lingered in a legal gray area pending TSA approval. Although the agency has not approved any digital IDs as conforming to the actual ID, the language in the expense package appears to facilitate this process.

Additionally, the bill directs the Department of Homeland Security to adjust its regulations to allow states to accept electronic forms of documents required to obtain a Real ID-compliant license – such as a birth certificate, proof of a social security number, name and home address – rather than requiring people to bring these documents to an office. It also allows states to use digital photos of already registered candidates. States should ensure that any digital transmission can be authenticated and that any attempted identity theft is detected and blocked, according to the bill.

The bill also makes an adjustment regarding privacy. Since showing a digital driver’s license in an airport security lane could require people to physically hand over their phones to a TSA officer, the law states that an identity check for travel is not allowed. cannot be used as an excuse to grab the device or inspect any of its other contents. .

“The presentation of digital information from a driver’s license or mobile or digital identity card to an official of a federal agency for official purposes cannot be interpreted as granting consent to that federal agency. seize the electronic device on which the license or card is stored or examine any other information contained on such a device, ”it read.

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digital driver’s license, REAL ID


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