Mississippi launches digital driver’s license
- By Susan Miller
- Nov 20, 2021
Mississippi residents can now store a digitized version of their driver’s license on their smartphone.
The Mississippi Department of Safety (DPS) is working with IDEMIA, a biometric and identity solutions provider, to allow residents to story and display an up-to-date driver’s license or ID on their phones that can be used as a legal form of ID. It can be shown anywhere users would normally show their driver’s license, including online to access state services.
The Mississippi Mobile ID ensures data security and privacy of personal information by only storing information with the state’s system of record and on the user’s device. It allows users to share only specific identity-related information -- such as their birth date when buying alcohol -- rather than all the information contained on a physical driver’s license.
After downloading the app, users set permissions and verify access to their phone number. They scan the front and back of their driver’s license and take a selfie. After the app verifies the information and photos with the state department of motor vehicles, it can be used in place of a physical ID where app readers are available.
To unlock the app to display ID information, users input a password or take advantage of their phone’s native fingerprint or face authentication capabilities.
By verifying identity prior to transactions, the state can streamline processes, reduce fraud and improve residents’ experience, officials said. In addition, verifiers can be confident the identity they are accepting is authentic and up-to-date because Mobile ID allows DPS to push information updates such as an address change or status update.
“While Mississippi Mobile ID will be voluntary; it is our belief that residents will find this new service to be secure, private and convenient,” DPS Commissioner Sean Tindell said. Mississippi is the fourth state to deploy IDEMIA’s Mobile ID technology, following Arizona, Oklahoma and Delaware.
States have been experimenting with digital driver’s licenses for several years. In 2015, Iowa’s Department of Transportation began testing a mobile driver’s license developed with MorphoTrust, which is now part of IDEMIA.
In a three-month pilot in 2017, Virginia residents around Richmond who had a DMV Now account could download a mobile driver’s license app and use it for age verification at establishments that participated in the pilot, which included some convenience stores, local breweries and other retail locations.
A test of Gemalto’s digital driver’s license in Maryland that same year found that the digital licenses were more secure than plastic cards and that people really liked the idea.
In 2018, Louisiana became the first state to make digital licenses available via the LA Wallet app to anyone who wanted them. The program was jointly designed by the motor vehicles office, the Louisiana State Police and the Department of Public Safety. It was developed for free by Envoc, a Louisiana software firm, at no cost to the state. It is currently used by 670,000 state residents across 1.2 million devices. In May 2021, the state announced that residents could also carry an electronic version of their COVID-19 vaccination records in their LA Wallet.
Utah, meanwhile, is working with GET Group North America and its technology partner Scytáles to provide GET Mobile ID, the ISO 18013-5-compliant app that puts a license on a smart phone. Any reader that complies with that standard can verify the document.
Most recently, Apple announced that Arizona and Georgia, to be followed by Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah, will soon allow their residents to securely add a digital driver’s license or state ID to the Wallet app on their iPhone and Apple Watch. IDs stored in the Apple Wallet app will also be accepted by the Transportation Security Agency.
Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.
Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.
Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.
Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.