TSA Seeks Input on Mobile Driver’s Licenses to Inform REAL ID Rulemaking

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has published a request for information in the Federal Register seeking information about security standards and technologies concerning mobile driver’s licenses. Responses to the request for information will support future DHS/TSA rulemaking to update the REAL ID Act implementing regulation to accommodate mobile driver’s licenses.  

Mobile driver’s licenses are digital representations of physical driver’s licenses, and are typically accessed via an app installed on a smartphone. Conceptually, mobile driver’s licenses are similar to digital representations of physical credit cards that are accessed via apps installed on smartphones. DHS and TSA are interested in mobile driver’s licenses because, compared to physical driver’s licenses, mobile driver’s licenses could provide greater security to TSA and all federal agencies verifying an individual’s identity, stronger privacy protections to individuals, and health and safety benefits to all users by enabling touchless identity verification.

“The TSA workforce comprises teams of security-focused innovators who look for opportunities to improve security and the traveler experience across the nation’s transportation network,” said Darby LaJoye, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator. “The mobile driver’s license is one emerging technology example, and TSA is interested in exploring its incorporation into our identity verification processes.”

The Request for Information, solicits comments and input regarding technical approaches, applicable industry standards and best practices to ensure that mobile driver’s licenses can be issued and authenticated with features that ensure security, privacy and identity fraud detection. Comments may be submitted until June 18, 2021.

The REAL ID Act applies to mobile and digital driver’s licenses and identification cards. To enable federal agency acceptance of mobile driver’s licenses for “official purposes,” which the REAL ID Act defines as including access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, the REAL ID Act implementing regulation requires an update to accommodate mobile driver’s licenses. This request for information will inform potential updates to the regulation.

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