The digital copies of our IDs can be conveniently stored on our smartphones, but they do pose some security concerns.

Driver's License

It’s no wonder that physical ID cards are being digitized now. A digital driver’s license is simply a copy of our physical ID that can be stored on our smartphones.

As part of the iOS 15 update, Apple announced that iPhone users can save digital copies of their driver licenses along with coupons, credit cards, and loyalty cards inside the iPhone Wallet. As convenient as it sounds, does it come with a catch? Can a digital ID pose security concerns?

Is a Digital Driver’s License Safe?

Have you ever forgotten your ID at home and wished you could use a replacement? Having a digital copy of your driver’s license handy in such situations can be a godsend. However, as with everything digital, the first thing that comes to mind is the security and safety of your data.

While digital IDs provide improved security in the sense that plastic IDs are easier to misplace or get stolen, they do present the same risks that digital credentials face.

Here are some potential security concerns that digital driver licenses pose.

Falling for Identity Theft

If you lose your phone or it gets stolen, you are at grave risk for identity theft, especially if someone accesses your iPhone Wallet or any app that you are using to store your digital ID. That’s why you’ll need to use some sort of encryption to keep things safe.

Related: Information That’s Used to Steal Your Identity

Hackers Gaining Access to Your Personal Information

As with any digital credentials, there is always a risk that your personal information can be hacked. Cybercriminals could also potentially access data that is being transmitted to and from your local department of motor vehicle’s database.

Exposing Your Data to Whoever Is Checking Your Phone


By unlocking the license, phone users could expose their data to whoever is checking it.  Law enforcement officers normally require a warrant to search a phone, but anyone who don’t know the law could be pushed into handing over the phone, allowing access to everything from contacts to messages.

Technical Compatibility Issues

Compatibility issues between the law enforcement system TraCS (Traffic and Criminal Software program) and your digital driver’s license can raise identity verification issues if you are pulled over and do not have your physical driver’s license on hand.

Tracking of Everyday Activities

There is also a growing concern that records of digital ID checks could be held in a centralized database which could potentially allow the tracking of our everyday activities.

Related: Why You Should Care About the Tracks Left By Your Digital Footprint

Smartphone Issues While Your ID Is Being Checked

Losing your smartphone connection or the phone’s battery running out can be a problem if you are in the middle of an ID check and aren’t carrying the physical version of your driver’s license.

What Are the Benefits of Digital IDs?

The main benefit provided by a digital ID is convenience. It’s handy to have a digital copy of your driver’s license on your phone in case you forget to take the real one with you.

Also, a digital license contains the same information as a printed license, including one’s name, address, and date of birth, along with a photograph. It further includes a scannable barcode so that machines can decipher the information.

In the form of a smartphone app, a digital driver’s license can help expedite things as it can download real-time data directly from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This saves time especially in instances where the law enforcement pulls you over and needs to verify your ID.

Go Digital but Proceed With Caution

Being the main form of personal ID, driver licenses play an integral part in the identity verification of individuals. The list of US states that are adopting the digital driver’s license as a form of acceptable ID is growing rapidly; and sooner or later, digital IDs will be adopted globally.

So, if you don’t like lugging wallets and IDs around, then go ahead and enroll in a digital ID instead. But always err on the side of caution by bearing in mind the potential risks.

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