Iowa DOT delays launch of Digital ID for security improvements

(TNS) — Iowans will have to wait even longer for the option to keep their state-issued ID on their smartphones and not just their wallets.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has delayed the public launch of its digital driver’s license, or “mobile ID,” as it seeks to develop and test a newer version of the app to align with best practices and new national and international standards.

“After we began development, national and international ‘mobile identity’ best practices were reinforced,” Andrea Henry, director of strategic communications for the Iowa DOT, responded in an email, “and we worked to incorporate them into the Iowa app during our development.” .

The new guidelines prompted additional development and testing of the Phone ID app using newer software to add another layer of security, said Tony Smith, director of the Iowa DOT Emerging Technology Program.

“We want to provide the highest level of security to citizens and accredited parties,” Smith said.

This includes including a QR code for retail establishments and other places to scan to verify a person’s age, identity or address. The QR code includes an encryption key, and once scanned an encrypted Bluetooth connection is initiated.

Smith said all personal information is stored in the DOT system and on a user’s device, which is not shared “until you release that information” through the app.

Previously, DOT officials had hoped to make the Iowa Phone ID available for download via Apple and Android smartphone apps sometime in 2022.

Smith said the Department of Transportation has not yet set a firm date for the mobile ID app’s public rollout.

“We will be conducting a beta program with the release of the new software that will involve signing up for the app and then using the features in the app to test functionality and user experience,” Smith said. “The beta will also include the use of the Iowa Mobile ID app with verification tool to obtain feedback on the functionality and user experience of this transaction.”

Smith said that while new security features have been added, the registration process has not changed.

To enable mobile identification, a smartphone user will download and open the app, register their phone number, scan the front and back of their physical driver’s license, and take a “live selfie,” or selfie for Iowa Department of Transportation officials can verify the photo and information in file to verify the user. Once confirmed, the mobile ID will be registered.

Users then generate a six-digit PIN to unlock the app. They can also use biometric unlocks, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, according to the Iowa DOT.

The Iowa Mobile ID application will be optional and free for users, who are still expected to carry hard-copy licenses even if their mobile device comes with a digital version of their ID.

“It’s attached to your ID, it doesn’t replace it,” said Smith. “Users are still required to carry their actual ID.”

The new digital driver’s license will also meet the federal standard REAL ID that will be required to board an airplane or enter a federal building beginning May 7, 2025.

“Iowa Phone ID is an extension of a citizen’s driver’s license or ID,” said Smith. “If a citizen has a real ID on their physical ID card, they will have a real ID on their mobile ID.”

She said the Department of Transportation is working to ensure that the digital ID can be accepted by TSA ID readers at airports.

While Iowans will still carry their physical ID, Smith said the digital version provides a convenient, secure, and contactless way to verify one’s identity.

“It’s all on your phone, and now your ID is too,” Smith said, noting that people usually have their phones in their hands, and they are often “easier to reach than your wallet.”

Smith said that in addition to encryption features to help protect against fraud, users can also choose what information they want to share. For example, users can verify their age without having to relay sensitive data such as their date of birth or address.

“It’s a great opportunity to share just the information you need for this deal,” she said. “It provides comfort in a safe and private way.”

©2023 Gazette, distribution Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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