Americans could soon fly using IDs stored on their phones under Apple-TSA project

·2-min read
<p>A woman checks her cellphone by self check-in kiosks on the departures level of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on May 27, 2021 in Los Angeles.</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

A woman checks her cellphone by self check-in kiosks on the departures level of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on May 27, 2021 in Los Angeles.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Forget the paperwork at the check-in desk. Just don’t forget your phone.

Apple customers may soon be able to use their iPhones or Apple watches as identification before boarding flights in the US with a digital copy of their ID scanned into the Apple Wallet, the company announced on Monday at its annual World Wide Developers Conference 2021 (WWDC21).

“Later this year, beginning with participating states in the US, users will be able to add their driver’s license or state ID to Wallet,” an Apple spokesperson said. “Select TSA checkpoints will be the first place users can begin using their digital ID.”

The Transportation Security Administration is reportedly working towards a protocol to accept the digital ID documents for flights in participating states.

The consumer tech giant is also working on applying similar technology to digital copies of home, work, hotel, and car keys.

The announcement was not the only news that shook up WWDC21. The company also previewed new versions of each major Apple operating system as well as a new iPad Pro tablet with the company’s M1 processor.

In April, Patently Apple reported the company had filed a successfully granted patent for “Systems relating to a National ID Verification System,” showing how mobile phone users could have their identities verified, including through digitally stored biometric information.

The move into travel documents is the latest expansion of the popular Apple Wallet app, which was launched in 2012. Apple users can already use the feature to store plane tickets, concert passes, student IDs, as well as credit and debit cards via Apple Pay.

Last year, according to one study, consumers used digital wallets like Apple Pay more often than they did physical ones when making in-store purchases. In 2020, the use of cash dropped by around 10 per cent, making up only one-fifth of all face-to-face payments globally. In wealthy nations like Canada, the UK, France, Norway, Sweden and Australia, cash payments fell by 50 per cent or more.

Despite this widespread adoption, privacy and security advocates warn that for all of their convenience, digital passports have problems of their own, ranging from falsified information, to hacks, to potential abuse of digitally stored biometric identification.

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