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Florida likely to be first state to get digital driving licenses, raising privacy concerns

Other states will likely follow.
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Florida might become the first state in the US to offer digital driving licenses.

A digital license is the same as a standard license, only it is accessible digitally, via a phone or tablet. The company behind Florida’s digital licenses is Thales, which has previously collaborated with companies and governments in the security, defense, transportation, and aerospace on different digital systems.

“The State of Florida will be the first state in the United States to provide mobile Driver Licenses with leading-edge security mechanisms, fully compliant with rigorous national and international standards,” the company said in a statement.

The company insists that the digital license will serve the same purpose as the traditional license. It will involve opening an app in which a law enforcement officer can, among other things, verify your age.

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“I’m excited for this innovative project that will make the state of Florida a national leader in offering secure and trusted mobile identification, which is a priority for our governor, Ron DeSantis,” said the executive director of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLDHSMV), Terry Rhodes.

“We have made a sustained commitment to the modernization of nearly every aspect of what our department does and how customers access our services, and Thales will be a great partner as Florida now steps into the future of mobile identification,” Rhodes added.

A few other states have also been touting the idea of digital driving licenses. Louisiana has made steps towards digital driver’s licenses by collaborating with a tech company called Envoc to create the LA Wallet.

While a digital license is convenient, there might be privacy concerns. Where a mobile app is involved, there is a chance the developer is accessing personal data and tracking users in new ways.

Last year, Nevada tried to pass a bill that would give up drivers’ privacy and, combined with a digital license, the future could be bleak for lovers of freedom. The risk is that when an officer gets consent to access to a person’s device to see the driving license, they could also then access other areas of a device.

Nevada bill AB200 would allow police to search the phones of everyone involved in a car crash.

“An act relating to motor vehicles; authorizing a peace officer at the scene of a traffic crash to use technology to determine if a driver was using a handheld wireless communications device at the time of the crash; requiring the suspension of the driver’s license of a driver who refuses a request by a peace officer to use such technology; providing penalties; and providing other matters properly.”

The bill states that drivers give up their rights simply by driving in Nevada.

“Section 1 further provides that any person who operates a vehicle in this State is deemed to have given consent to the use of an investigate technology device on the handheld wireless communications device when requested by a peace officer at the scene of a crash. If a person refuses such a request, the peace officer is required to seize the driver’s license or permit of the person and issue an order suspending the license or permit for 90 days.”

Neither Thales nor the State of Florida was specific when the digital licenses will be launched.

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