California Offers Digital Driver’s License to 1.5 Million Residents

California Offers Digital Driver’s License to 1.5 Million Residents

The State of California expanded its digital driver’s license pilot program to include up to 1.5 million participants, who can use the state’s proprietary mobile app on Android or iPhone systems to make age-restricted purchases in participating stores and even airports. 

This pilot program, initiated just this year, was previously only limited to a few thousand participants, so this expansion marks a significant expansion of the program nearing the scale of widespread adoption.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which administers the program, participants should continue to carry their physical driver’s licenses, usage is not tracked, and users maintain firm control over any data.

The DMV advertises this digital identification as a convenience tool for use at airport security checkpoints, and for limiting the amount of personal information that could be gleaned during age verification for purchasing age-restricted items such as alcohol to ensure individuals can only see that a purchaser is of proper age. This new form of California identification, called an mDL, is accepted at SFO, San Jose, LAX, Las Vegas and Phoenix airports at security screening checkpoints. 

“Like many efforts by the government to stay up to date with technology, California’s digital driver’s license program is more about a futuristic look than making the lives of citizens easier…as California’s government openly admits, this ID won’t be able to be used to show a police officer,” said Los Angeles author and Democratic youth activist Alex Gruenenfelder, who shared his concerns about the efficacy of the program with The Center Square. “I don’t believe we are developing new digital security infrastructure, with all of the associated privacy risks and taxpayer expense with no clear motive.”
"I don't trust this to not fail when I'm trying to get into a bar," said Venice-based technology product manager Will Alston. "I bet it can get hacked easily."
California is one of 17 states thus far with digital driver’s license programs. Maryland is the only state to offer full integration with both Apple and Google wallet apps, though Arizona, Colorado and Georgia will soon follow. 

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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