California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke about the future of digital driver’s licenses in the state when sharing his new budget proposal in Sacramento this week. Newsom said the digital ID cards would arrive in “a matter of months.”
According to the Governor’s Budget Summary, the California Department of Technology is progressing on the Digital Identification project. The project is aimed at creating a single digital identifier that can be used to provide proof of identity and obtain access to state services.
When will California get digital drivers licenses?
The California Department of Motor Vehicles said the rollout to pilot a secure mobile driver’s license or mDL, could come as early as late spring for a limited number of participants. The DMV said it is working with popular mobile wallet providers, including Apple and Android, to place the mDLs into their devices.
The DMV is also developing an open-source app to test alongside the mDLs. All of these pilot products will utilize the security capabilities already built into smartphones, including biometric readings or a PIN code, the DMV confirmed to KRON4.
Privacy concerns of digital identification options
Only three states across the nation currently offer and accept digital IDs: Arizona, Colorado and Maryland. In 2021, Apple announced that Georgia, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah were all in talks with the company to establish digital IDs in the tech giant’s Apple Wallets.
Apple addressed one of the privacy concerns with the digital IDs: How much information is shared when showing one? Apple said the advantage to digital IDs is that the Apple Wallet will only share the information needed for a specific interaction, and it also allows the user to choose what data is shared.
With this advantage, you may no longer have to present an ID that shows your home address to be identified by a stranger at a bar or to board a plane. And because the information is transmitted from your phone to the device of the person checking the ID, the exchange is also completely touchless.
A technology company called IDEMIA is currently working with Apple and the Transportation Security Administration to implement the use of state identification cards in Apple Wallet. A result of the effort is now some people can use their digitally-stored identification cards to pass through the TSA checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona. IDEMIA previously partnered with the TSA to provide Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) scanners to scan and authenticate IDs at airports across the country.