Mary­land be­gins dig­i­tal driver’s li­cense pro­gram

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - DANDAN ZOU

Mary­land is test­ing the wa­ters on mak­ing state driver’s li­censes dig­i­tal.

Last week, the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Ad­min­is­tra­tion launched a two-year pro­gram that will test new tech­nol­ogy and col­lect data with the goal to make dig­i­tal driver’s li­censes a re­al­ity in the fu­ture.

The pi­lot pro­gram fol­lows the state’s up­grade of its driver’s li­censes and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards a year ago. MDOT said the state is­sued more than 1.6 mil­lion new cards with added se­cu­rity fea­tures to new and re­new­ing res­i­dents. In ad­di­tion, more than 33,000 vet­er­ans have re­ceived cards that has “VET­ERAN” printed on the front of the card, in­stead of on the back.

“The pri­or­ity [of the pi­lot pro­gram] is cer­tainly se­cu­rity,” said Kat Mo­ran, a MDOT me­dia re­la­tions spe­cial­ist.

The dig­i­tal ver­sion of a driver’s li­cense would be in­side a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion that looks like a bank­ing app, she said. When a user makes a pur­chase from a ven­dor, he or she could scan a QR code dis­played by the ven­dor and ap­pli­ca­ble in­for­ma­tion will be sent to the ven­dor.

When some­one needs to show his or her driver’s li­cense to ver­ify a credit card, that pro­tects the user’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion as the ven­dor will not be able to see in­for­ma­tion non-rel­e­vant to the pur­chase, such as ad­dresses and phys­i­cal de­scrip­tions, Mo­ran said.

If some­one is pulled over by a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, the po­lice of­fi­cer will have a scan reader to scan the driver’s mo­bile app and rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion will be sent to the of­fi­cer’s ve­hi­cle, she said.

With phys­i­cal copies, if some­one loses a wal­let, the in­for­ma­tion on the driver’s li­cense could be jeop­ar­dized, Mo­ran said. With the dig­i­tal ver­sion, how­ever, a phone can be locked to pro­tect some­one’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion from be­ing stolen.

The dig­i­tal ver­sion would also

make it more ef­fi­cient for users to up­date their in­for­ma­tion and more con­ve­nient for them to carry around.

“It’s not a re­place­ment; it’s an in-ad­di­tion-to,” Mo­ran said. And it’s too early to say where the pi­lot pro­gram will lead to, “but we are dream­ing big.”

The pi­lot pro­gram is tested among MDOT em­ploy­ees and fam­ily mem­bers in the Bal­ti­more and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area. The depart­ment is work­ing with Ge­malto, a Mary­land com­pany that man­u­fac­tures Mary­land driver’s li­censes.

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