Apple wants to hold all of our most important stuff in the Apple Wallet: a tempting offer we’re declining for now because we don’t need the pain of losing the phone compounded with also losing our credit cards, house keys, and car keys. But if you’re willing to roll the dice, Apple has announced that eight states are giving the project a governmental stamp of approval by verifying scans of drivers’ licenses and state IDs.
Apple has already allowed users to scan their drivers’ licenses to add to the Wallet, but the states—Arizona, Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah—will soon authenticate state-issued ID uploads along with a selfie and facial verification with head movements. If approved, Apple Wallet holders will soon be able to use at select TSA checkpoints with touchless readers.
Obviously, this is a gift to Apple, both dream promo for the Apple brand (security, privacy) and Apple’s M.O. (locking everyone into its walled garden of pre-installed apps until they’re utterly dependent on the company’s devices).
Apple says as much in the release, noting that it hopes to become your one and only wallet. “The addition of driver’s licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision of replacing the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet,” Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s VP of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet said in the release. Bailey continued that Apple is “already in discussions with many more states as we’re working to offer this nationwide in the future.”
It seems likely that Apple’s well on track to federal approval. TSA Administrator David Pekoske is quoted as saying that this “new and innovative” storage method “marks a major milestone by TSA to provide an additional level of convenience for the traveler by enabling more opportunities for touchless TSA airport security screening.” According to Apple, the TSA will start installing touchless identity readers which will pick up only the “the required information,” meaning that they won’t have to hand over their phones to airport security agents. Apple said that states will release more information in the coming months about which TSA checkpoints will begin accepting the Wallet ID. The TSA was not immediately available for comment.
Heading off other potential concerns, it says that neither Apple nor the states can track where users have used the touchless ID readers. That assurance brings recalls recent nightmare tales of shady companies collating years of location data and cops using license plate readers to place people at crime scenes.
It’s unclear where else states will begin accepting the Wallet IDs—traffic stops, DMVs, voting centers? In an email, an Apple spokesperson said only that the company is working on more “use cases,” to be announced. The state officials quoted in the release seem to be eyeing pervasive expansion. “A state-issued credential has become the standard for which institutions of all sectors use as a trusted source of identity proofing,” Georgia’s commissioner of the Georgia Department of Driver Services Spencer R. Moore is quoted as saying. “The identity proofing bar has been raised significantly thanks to Apple and innovative states like Georgia.”
Just in case, a friendly reminder that it’s never a good idea to hand an unlocked phone to a cop.