Giannoulias: Illinois Should Pursue Digital Driver’s Licenses

Secretary of State candidate calls for pilot program to test latest technology
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Giannoulias: Illinois Should Pursue Digital Driver’s Licenses

Secretary of State candidate calls for pilot program to test latest technology

As part of his agenda to further modernize the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias wants the State to move toward developing digital driver’s licenses.

Giannoulias, the former State Treasurer, contends people have come to rely more on their phones to prove their identity and provide information. More than a dozen states have already implemented mobile driver’s license pilot programs or are currently testing technology.

In addition, Apple announced earlier this month that eight states will be among the first, allowing residents to add their driver license or state identification card directly to their iPhone or Apple Watch within its Wallet app.

“A mobile driver’s license will make it easier, faster and more convenient for people who don’t have the time to wait at driver’s license facilities or for the mail to arrive,” Giannoulias said. “With more people using mobile wallets and boarding passes for flight travel on their phone, a digital license is a logical next step when it comes to providing proof that you’re qualified to drive and also using it at bars, grocery stores, banks and doctor’s offices.”

A mobile driver’s license or state identification allows individuals to update their information remotely without having to physically visit a driver’s license facility or wait for a new card to arrive in the mail. Allowing for the adoption of contactless identification is especially critical as the nation emerges from the pandemic, Giannoulias said.

Like most states, Illinois already allows drivers to use an electronic copy of their insurance card during a traffic stop.

Giannoulias supports legislation that was introduced in the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year by State Rep. Kam Buckner and co-sponsored by State Reps. Barbara Hernandez and Carol Ammons. Although the bill was not called for a vote, Giannoulias pledged to work with the state lawmakers to pass legislation in the future.

A digital driver’s license would come in the form of a phone app protected by biometrics or a PIN. Instead of handing over a physical license to a police officer or store clerk, an individual could display the relevant information or send it electronically. Nevertheless, Giannoulias wants the technology thoroughly tested to ensure that privacy is protected, and personal information is not compromised in any way.

Unlike plastic cards that can easily be counterfeited or tampered with, mobile licenses are less susceptible to fraud and easier to confirm someone’s identity or authenticity.

Giannoulias said digital driver’s licenses would not totally replace plastic ones. Instead, they would serve as a supplement and that physical driver’s licenses and state identification cards would remain an option for anyone who chooses not to obtain a digital license.

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