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Arizona First to Embrace Digital Driver’s Licenses on iPhones

By Lucas Nolan April 4, 2022

Arizona is now offering digital copies of driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs on iPhones and Apple Watches. At least 11 other states are currently considering similar plans. As one professor of technology ethics pointed out, “Apple is now sort of trying to vertically integrate your whole life into its phone.”

The New York Times reports that Arizona has become the first state to offer residents digital copies of driver’s licenses and state identification cards available on their iPhones. The move is part of a partnership with Apple announced last year which is expected to expand to Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah, and the territory of Puerto Rico.

But the expansion is facing some pushback, with some worried about privacy issues and Apple’s growing influence. Currently, very few states will accept a digital driver’s license as valid and it has yet to be revealed whether the other states have agreed to join Arizona.

While the digital licenses will be considered valid ID in certain cases, Arizona residents will still need to hand over their official physical driver’s licenses and government ID if they’re pulled over by the police or carded at a bar. Digital licenses will currently only be accepted at select security screening checkpoints at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Arizona Motor Vehicles Division estimated last week that 11,500 people have requested digital copies of their driver’s license or ID. Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the Motor Vehicles Division in Arizona, said: “If they like technology and they want to be an early adopter for it, by all means. This is absolutely voluntary.”

However, many have worries about Apple’s continued creep into the essential services used by people on a daily basis. Elizabeth M. Renieris, a professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame, commented: “Apple is now sort of trying to vertically integrate your whole life into its phone.”

Renieris added: “They’re normalizing the presenting of identification and other credentials. This is also coming on the back of the conversation around digital vaccine passports.”

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