A newly released app will allow citizens to link their driver’s license or state-issued identification to their smartphones. Officials say the tool is not meant to completely replace physical cards, however.
(TNS) — Oklahomans will soon have access to their own digital identification cards, but it could take some time for businesses and government agencies to accept them.
The first 1,000 people received an invite last month to download a smartphone app developed by Idemia, the same company that already manages much of the ID card infrastructure for Oklahoma and 34 other states. The app lets users link their current ID or driver's license to their mobile phone through existing records in the state database.
The goal is a statewide release Oct. 1, but current ID card holders can visit innovate.ok.gov to opt in now, said Secretary of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe. The app and service is free.
"As part of a progressive plan to introduce technology into government agencies that can make a positive impact on individuals’ lives, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety is pleased to be among the first states to conduct a comprehensive pilot program on the Mobile ID," Ostrowe wrote in the email. "The Mobile ID is a digital credential that is stored on your smart phone and offers all the current benefits of a state driver’s license or state identification. The credential will eventually allow individuals to conduct online proofing transactions with banks, retailers and other government agencies."
Several states are racing to implement mobile identification services, and Oklahoma will likely be one of the first to let residents flash their smartphone instead of pulling a card from their wallet. It's not designed to completely replace a physical card, however. Just 81% of Americans own a smartphone, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center. The same report showed only two-thirds of people over 50 own a device.
"The Mobile ID is not just a photo of your license or ID on a mobile device; it is a fully interactive identity solution that gives you control over how you share your personal information," Ostrowe said. "The evolution of the driver’s license to be a secure credential easily accessed on your smartphone offers privacy features not feasible with a plastic card."
With the technological advancement of government-issued identification, privacy and security advocates have warned about government overreach and vulnerability to hackers.
Any database has vulnerabilities, however, and the government already has biometric data on people who get a driver's license. While those remain a worry for some, security consultant Nathan Sweaney said he doesn't think it's a huge privacy concern.
"Everybody freaked out about the potential, 'Oh it's on my phone, what if hackers get to it?'" Sweaney said. "But that's a reason to do things well. That's not really a reason to not do them."
And if hackers do find a way to access ID information, it's pretty much the same data that was lost with hacks at Equifax, Capital One and inside the federal government's Office of Personnel Management, he said.
A mobile ID will likely have even more safeguards than the traditional cards issued by the state. The app requires a passcode, facial recognition or fingerprint to access the image, on top of whatever personal security someone has to activate their phone.
The image is linked directly to state records and will have anti-counterfeiting measures built in. Officials foresee it being used to facilitate secure online transactions like applying online for state benefits, securing tax refunds, transferring vehicle titles and more.
For in-person ID checks, the app will let users display only the relevant information needed for a transaction.
"Right now, if I were an attractive 22-year-old woman and I go into a bar, my only option to get in is to give the bouncer my full name, my address, my date of birth, all of these details," said Sweaney. "And really, all he needs to see is if I am 21 or not."
©2019 The Oklahoman. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.