Say goodbye to your privacy: Use of digital IDs in American states is spreading rapidly


More and more states in the U.S. are implementing digital ID systems, raising more concerns that these digital systems could turn into backdoors for government surveillance and erode personal privacy.

At least eight states already have state-sponsored apps where people can store their digital IDs. These include the Mobile ID app in Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi and Oklahoma and the myColorado app, which provides proof of identification, age and address anywhere in Colorado.

In Louisiana, the LA Wallet serves as the state-sponsored app for storing digital driver's licenses and is considered legal for driving purposes and accepted by state law enforcement in lieu of a physical driver's license.

In Maryland, the Maryland Mobile ID app is a "voluntary, secure, digitized version" of the state-issued driver's license. Utah also has a state-sponsored digital driver's license app known as Get Mobile.

Most of these digital IDs are limited to digital driver's licenses – which are basically just digital versions of a person's physical driver's license or ID card that can be stored on a phone app.

These apps are designed to work with a state government to set up a process for verifying a person's identity digitally.

Other states working with Big Tech to develop digital ID systems, raising privacy concerns

Several other states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are also working on apps that can hold digital IDs.

California and Florida are currently running pilot tests for their California Digital ID Project and Florida Smart ID program, respectively, with the goal of rolling out both apps to the entirety of the state in the near future. Illinois, Texas and Virginia are also considering proposals for digital versions of state IDs and driver's licenses.

Seven other states – Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, New Jersey and Ohio – and Puerto Rico are currently working with tech Giant Apple to develop virtual IDs that will be compatible with the company's Apple Wallet.

"Customers' identity data is encrypted and protected against tampering and theft. Biometric authentication using Face ID and Touch ID ensures that only the person who added the ID to the device can view or present their ID or license in Wallet," Apple claimed.

The states implementing digital ID systems are also claiming they will respect the privacy and civil liberties of their citizens.

But even the American Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns about storing digital licenses on apps. The organization warned that hackers could exploit the adoption of digital driver's licenses. Law enforcement could use the pretext of verifying a person's digital driver's license to search thru people's devices. Big Tech, as well as state governments, could use the consolidation of large amounts of users and their data to track them without their knowledge or consent.

"It's easier to trust state actors to respect our privacy when they lack the ability to violate our privacy," wrote Luke Hogg for Reason. "As more states and localities choose to implement digital ID systems, it is up to the citizens to demand that those systems be built in ways that protect civil liberties. The technology exists. All that is left is for it to be implemented."

Watch this documentary from Debunk Productions highlighting what it truly means for the world to rely on digital IDs.

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