Apple lobbied NY officials in push for digital driver’s licenses

Apple lobbyists met with New York state officers final yr as a part of a controversial nationwide push for digital driver’s licenses, state data present.  

The tech large needs clients to retailer variations of presidency ID paperwork, together with their state driver’s licenses, in digital wallets that may then be accessed by iPhones, Apple watches and different Apple gadgets. 

The corporate pitches the characteristic as handy and safe — however privateness activists have objected to connecting private IDs to telephones and raised questions on Apple’s state contracts.

As a part of Apple’s push, an Albany-based lobbying agency referred to as the Roffe Group met with the New York State Division of Motor Autos’ deputy commissioner Greg Kline twice in 2021, in line with just lately launched state data. 

Throughout a gathering throughout first half of the yr, Apple lobbyists mentioned “cell driver’s license[s]” with Kline, whereas one other assembly within the second half of 2021 gave an “replace on Apple’s announcement on digital id playing cards,” data launched by the New York State Joint Fee of Public Ethics present. 

New York DMV deputy commissioner Greg Kline met with Apple lobbyists.
New York DMV deputy commissioner Greg Kline met with Apple lobbyists.
Fb/New York State Division of Motor Autos

Apple and the DMV didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

The state data don’t present particulars on the conferences however it seems that any efforts to get New York instantly onboard with Apple’s ID program have been unsuccessful. 

In September, Apple introduced that Arizona and Georgia can be the primary states to take part within the digital driver’s license program, adopted by Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah.

The corporate additionally mentioned that the Transportation Safety Administration plans to begin accepting IDs saved on iPhones at “choose airport safety checkpoints” in “taking part airports” with out offering particulars. 

“The addition of driver’s licenses and state IDs to Apple Pockets is a crucial step in our imaginative and prescient of changing the bodily pockets with a safe and easy-to-use cell pockets,” Apple vp Jennifer Bailey mentioned on the time. 

However the Digital Frontier Basis, a digital rights and privateness group, has raised issues concerning the privateness implications of phone-linked IDs. 

“Designed fallacious, [digital IDs] may be an enormous step in the direction of nationwide identification, by which each time we stroll by a door or purchase espresso, a file of the occasion is collected and aggregated,” the group said last year, including that connecting digital gadgets to real-world IDs dangers “hampering the flexibility to have interaction in constitutionally protected nameless speech and facilitating privacy-destroying persistent monitoring of our actions and associations.” 

The TSA is accepting digital IDs at some airports.
The TSA is accepting digital IDs at some airports.

In the meantime, a November CNBC report revealed that a number of states who’ve signed ID contracts with Apple are required to pay for a lot of facets of this system themselves and comply with let Apple overview and approve “all public-facing communications” regarding this system.

“Apple’s curiosity is obvious — promote extra iPhones,” Johns Hopkins Carey Enterprise College professor Philip Phan instructed the outlet. “The state’s curiosity is to serve its residents, however I’m undecided why they suppose a partnership with one particular expertise firm that owns a closed ecosystem is the easiest way to do it. For the state to spend taxpayer’s cash on a product that serves solely half its residents is questionable.”

Certainly one of Apple lobbyists’ conferences with Kline was first reported by the Albany Times-Union. 

Data present that Apple paid Roffe Group a complete of $108,000 for its work in 2021, which additionally included lobbying efforts round vaccine passports and distribution.

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