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Apple Wallet Status ID support extends to Maryland residents

Apple Wallet now supports Maryland IDs and driver’s licenses, marking it as the second state after Arizona to get a digital ID feature (via Mac rumors). Free State residents can now use their iPhone or Apple Watch at some TSA checkpoints at participating airports, Including Baltimore/Washington International and Reagan National. The iPhone will not carry a “photo” of the card, but rather a means of transmitting information to a receiving device – and you use biometrics to confirm the information being sent to the device.

However, digital identifiers are not a substitute for physical identifiers. The Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles website (mainly the DMV website) states that law enforcement does not accept the Maryland Mobile ID, which means you still have to carry your wallet while driving and even flying. Currently, the only advantage of a digital ID is that your actual identity can remain hidden at designated airports.

But this is just the beginning of the digital identity revolution, and there will be a little bit of confusion along the way. So if you’re looking forward to a future where you don’t need to carry a wallet, adoption will be key. For Maryland residents, educational videos are available on the state’s website to help pay, with the production value we’re used to seeing from Apple. This is likely because Apple has explicitly contracted to control marketing and other aspects of the deal with each country.

There has been a concern that once law enforcement can access information via these devices, attention is on your iPhone, and they might ask you to hand your phone over even though that’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Last year’s ACLU report on the “identity crisis” posed by the shift to digital IDs cited a slew of potential privacy threats to consider, including police access to people’s phones, user control of data, and even Long-term issues such as possible expansions of incoming information or requirements for remote use. Together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), they have sent a series of questions to the Department of Homeland Security, seeking to address these concerns before the technology is widely used.

Adding a case ID to your iPhone requires an iPhone 8 or later running at least iOS 15.4, and the accompanying Apple Watch Series 4 or later must be running at least watchOS 8.4. Once these requirements are met, you can click the plus button in the upper right side of the Wallet app, click Driver’s License or State ID, select your state, and then follow the instructions that include taking photos of the front and back of your ID. You’ll be asked to move your face in certain directions on the camera, on a screen similar to the Face ID setup screen.

When you present your card digitally, the Wallet app tells you which parts of your identity will be shared. Biometrics are used for confirmation.
Photo: MVA/Apple

The data will be sent to the state for verification, so the ID may not be available immediately after completing the process. Once you get it, though, you’ll use it by pinning your iPhone or Apple Watch up to the TSA check-in station. It’ll respond to your digital ID (similar to how the Apple Rapid Transit Card works on the metro or subway), and then there’s an additional check on your device asking for your permission to continue.

This additional check means that the captured images are sent to the state – in my case, Maryland – to confirm that I am the one setting them up. Apple’s overview of the privacy and security of Wallet IDs shows that they dispose of data once the process is complete:

The subset of data from your ID is deleted from Apple’s servers immediately after your request has been submitted to the state. Your selfie and video of your movements are deleted from Apple’s servers shortly after your country’s issuing authority approves or declines your ID to Apple Wallet.

Both Apple and Maryland point out that digital IDs are convenient and secure — and if the technology is reliable, we finally have a way to identify ourselves without having to hand over our personal data that is usually on a physical card.