Iowa DOT delays rollout of digital ID for security improvements

Iowa DOT delays rollout of digital ID for security improvements

(TNS) — Iowans will have to wait longer for the ability 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has delayed the public launch of its digital driver’s license, or “mobile ID,” as it seeks to develop and test a newer version of the application to align with new national and international best practices and standards.

“After we began development, national and international best practices” for mobile identity were solidified, “and we’ve built these into Iowa’s app as we develop,” Andrea Henry, director of strategic communications for the Iowa DOT, responded in an e- mail.


The new guidelines led to further development and testing of the mobile ID app using newer software to add another layer of security, said Toni Smith, new technology program manager at the Iowa DOT.

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

This includes incorporating a QR code for retail businesses and other places to scan to verify a person’s age, identity or address. The QR code includes an encryption key, and when scanned, an encrypted Bluetooth connection starts.

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

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

Smith said the DOT has not yet set a firm date for the public rollout of the mobile ID app.

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“We will conduct a pilot with the new software version that will include in-app registration and then use in-app features to test functionality and user experience,” Smith said. “The pilot will also include using the Iowa Mobile ID app with a verification tool to get feedback on the functionality and user experience of that transaction.”

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

To enable mobile identification, a smartphone user will download and open the app, register their phone number, scan the front and back of his or her physical driver’s license and take a “live selfie” or self-image that Iowa DOT officials can check against the image and information on file to verify the user. Once verified, the mobile ID will be registered.

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

The Iowa mobile ID app will be optional and free for users, who are still expected to have paper licenses even if their mobile device is equipped with the digitized version of their ID.

“It’s a companion to your physical ID; it doesn’t replace it,” Smith said. “Users should still carry their physical ID.”

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

“Iowa Mobile ID is an extension of a citizen’s driver’s license or ID,” Smith said. “If the citizen has REAL ID for the physical ID, they will have REAL ID on the mobile ID.”

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She said the DOT is working to ensure the digital ID can be accepted by Transportation Security Administration ID readers at airports.

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

“Everything is on your phone, now your ID is too,” Smith said, noting that people usually have their phone in their hand and it’s often “more convenient to get to than their wallet.”

In addition to encryption features to protect against fraud, users can also choose the information they want to share, Smith said. For example, users can verify their age without having to pass on sensitive data such as date of birth or address.

“It’s a great opportunity to share only the information you need for that transaction,” she said. “It offers convenience in a secure and private way.”

©2023 The Gazette, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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