Virtual driver’s license? Pilot program to start in Utah

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Your driver’s license may soon move from your wallet to your smartphone as a pilot project begins in Utah.

The first steps to initiate a mobile driver’s license, or mDL, and identification card pilot program are underway, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Driver License Division (DLD).

Officials say the mDL will conveniently allow you to add your primary form of identification – either your driver’s license or identification card – to your mobile phone. According to DLD, the mDL isn’t just convenient, it will enhance “privacy by minimizing the amount of personal data they share, in contrast to what they now share when handing over a physical card.”

Utah’s mDL is the first in the nation and, according to DLD, “will incorporate the industry standards established for privacy, security, interoperability, and authenticity.”

What is mDL?

DLD says mDLs are “a secure, contactless digital form of ID that give citizens control of the personal information they share with businesses.”

To access you mDL, you would download an app to your mobile device, most likely a smartphone.

Entities like banks and grocery stores will then use a reader to request, receive, and verify the integrity and authenticity of your mDL. The reader will access the DLD’s information infrastructure, which officials say will securely and store your information.

“What makes Utah’s mDL unique and pioneering is what it’s not: it’s not just a photo or digital representation of your driver license,” DLD says in a release. They continue, saying, “Utah’s mDL uses standards outlined by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in their mDL Implementation Guidelines and established by the International Organization for Standards (ISO).”

The standards mean using an mDL will need more than just showing your phone to a clerk – only the mDL app and reader will access the DLD’s infrastructure to verify the information.

You’ll also be able to control data minimization, according to DLD.

“Data minimization means that a mDL holder can release only select data elements to a verifying entity. This stands in contrast to sharing all data as individuals do now when they hand over a physical card,” officials explain.

For example, if you’re showing your mDL to a clerk to prove your age, you’ll be able to limit data released to just a photo of you and the fact that you’re older than 18.

“Our Driver License Division is committed to working with residents and stakeholders to implement a solution which provides the highest value to Utahns: one which is accepted anywhere, provides enhanced privacy, security and personal control,” says DPS Commissioner Jess L. Anderson. “Your privacy is of the utmost importance to us and the mDL gives you control over your data. You choose what information to share when your identification is requested.”

When does the program start?

Officials say the pilot program is ready to begin with about 100 select participants. The program will expand to 1,000 participants, including the broader public, later this year.

During the 2019 legislative session, State Senator Lincoln Filmore’s Senate Bill 100 passed, allowing the DLD to begin studying the cost, process, and vendors needed to implement mDL.

Through the pilot project, officials hope to “establish acceptance” of the mDLs with Utahns by having participants use them in real-world scenarios, like banking, travel, traffic stops, and restaurant and liquor store transactions.

Results of the pilot program will be shared with the Utah Legislature, which will determine whether or not to implement mDL statewide. Utahns will still have the option to receive a physical card for the driver license or identification card.

For mDL, Utah DLD is working with GET Group North America and its technology partner Scytáles to provide GET Mobile ID, an ISO 18013-5-compliant application that puts an official driver license or ID Card on a citizen’s smartphone.

According to GET Mobile, the mDL pilot program will open to the public, with limited availability, this summer. For more information, click here.

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