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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License 207

New submitter dubner writes Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone. That's what you can do in Iowa rather than "digging through clutter in your glove compartment for an insurance card." And soon your driver's license will be available on your phone too, according to a story in the (Des Moines Register). Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver's license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Some marvelous quotes in TFA: "The new app should be highly secure ... People will use a pin number for verification." And "Branstad (Iowa governor)... noted that even Iowa children are now working on digital development projects." A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?
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In Iowa, a Phone App Could Serve As Driver's License

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  • Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:05PM (#48574839)

    Well, that's one way for the police to get easy access to your phone without a warrant.

    • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:15PM (#48574981)

      and.... we're done here.

      (yes, this is obviously the motive; get people used to handing over their phones to cops, already unlocked.)

      they must think we are all stupid.

      (and I guess, with over half of us, they are probably right) ;(

      • and.... we're done here.

        They're going to NEED that new Gorilla Glass, due to all those phones with the app being touched with 11-foot poles.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      in the first place, i'm sure the app itself will collect a nice amount of information to phone home with.

    • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:19PM (#48575043) Homepage Journal

      If you can access the data with a PIN wirelessly, why does the "owner" of the license even need direct access to it? At that point it's the issuing authority's responsibility to be able to access it using the owner's given PIN.
       
      To condense the argument down, "why do you even need a phone app? why can't you just give your last name and PIN to the officer?" All the phone app is doing here is validating that you know the PIN.

      • Ah; but the trick is that your phone can validate the PIN, but the officer can't. That way, the officer can't pretend to be you by knowing your name and PIN, because they don't know the PIN. That's the entire idea behind public key infrastructure -- you can provide trusted credentials to untrusted parties by not revealing the private info to them, but having it vetted by a mutually trusted third party.

        Personally, I think the government should issue key-pairs to people, not identity numbers that don't expi

        • by richlv ( 778496 )

          have a pin pad. officer hands the pad to you in/on your vehicle, you enter the pin (make sure to hit all buttons in a random order afterwards).

    • Unlocked cant be the primary reason for pulling someone over in my state. But the cop can add it to a ticket for something else. So they could check if you been texting in the previous five minutes while driving then.
  • by thunderdanp ( 1481263 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:06PM (#48574861)
    Does this sound like a convenient way for Police to have unfettered access to your phone, in light of Riley v. California?
    • A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?

      Not to worry, I have a phone charger with all the right attachments back in my cruiser. "Phone charging", quote on quote, is part of the many services we provide.

      Believe it or not, I even have this handheld $20,000 gizmo that can back up [thenextweb.com] the content of your phone in less than two minutes, whatever brand of phone you use. It also helps that SSD memory, by design, doesn't try to overwrite its memory spaces of deleted pictures with newly taken pictures, unless it's absolutely necessary. It's a way to make the

      • The article you are linking to is many years old. You can't extract anything from a modern iPhone if it is locked.
        • by rsborg ( 111459 )

          The article you are linking to is many years old. You can't extract anything from a modern iPhone if it is locked.

          Yes, with iOS8 and a non-simple passcode, you're correct. Recommendation is simply to shut down the phone if you get pulled over, that way they can't coerce you to touch-unlock your iOS device using TouchID either (first boot requires typed passcode to unlock).

          Any criminal or person who wants to hide their stuff will likely also have a decoy phone, turned on so the police can work on "something".

      • That isn't going to help with today's users (esp. kids). The way they take pics and videos, they're going to constantly be deleting old stuff to make room.

        8 gig used to be unimaginably large. Now it's the bare minimum. Give them 64 gig, they'll fill it up - videos they've shot, videos from youtube, whatever. Video (esp. cat videos) will always expand to exceed capacity.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      Does this sound like a convenient way for Police to have unfettered access to your phone, in light of Riley v. California?

      Actually, I think it might be a convenient way to track drivers and eventually to tax people either flat rates or congestion taxes based on their road usage which could eliminate the need for electronic tags. Taxation is always a bigger motivator than police security. According to a local news story I heard reported a few weeks ago, there are systems in place used for traffic monitoring that already grabbing wireless data from people's cell phones. Apparently the technique is being used simply to model

      • by gnunick ( 701343 )

        According to a local news story I heard reported a few weeks ago, there are systems in place used for traffic monitoring that already grabbing wireless data from people's cell phones. Apparently the technique is being used simply to model traffic patterns and for planning purposes.

        Yes, there certainly are such systems, and they're not all that new. The most prominent one is probably Google Traffic [wikipedia.org].

        • by bigpat ( 158134 )

          According to a local news story I heard reported a few weeks ago, there are systems in place used for traffic monitoring that already grabbing wireless data from people's cell phones. Apparently the technique is being used simply to model traffic patterns and for planning purposes.

          Yes, there certainly are such systems, and they're not all that new. The most prominent one is probably Google Traffic [wikipedia.org].

          That is a bit different than what was described in the news story and what I was describing.... What the Department of Transportation was supposedly doing was actually using the cell phone pings to the towers in order to identify, triangulate and track vehicles. So there was no "opt-out" like you can do if you are using an android phone and don't want to provide location data to Google. The only opt out was to power off your phone.

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:06PM (#48574863) Homepage Journal

    Big brother has made it more convenient for you to always carry the necessary documentation. It's every citizen's duty to make sure they have the necessary papers before they travel.

    • It's every citizen's duty to make sure they have the necessary papers before they drive on public roads.

      It is called license and insurance (in most places).

      • Yeah, of all the Soviet Russia conditions where "your papers, please" could be used to identify the US as a police state, this is NOT one of them.

    • Funny... Police cruisers can look up your driver's license based off of your Social Security number or Driver's License number (if you know it)... I've been pulled over when I'd forgotten mine, and there was no problem. Not sure what problem this really solves except maybe more invasive government.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:06PM (#48574873)

    Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone.

    ... and let him search through it.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:08PM (#48574899) Homepage

    Seriously, I'm getting tired of the endless stream of apps.

    The world is an app, I have an app, everybody has an app ... it's lots of hype, and very little long-term proven benefit.

    I really hope we reach peak app soon, and people STFU about apps.

    Yes, fine, you have software. We've had software for decades. But now it's on a phone or a tablet. So it's an app, and it's super awesome, and we need to dedicate countless hours of coverage to it.

    And every drooling idiot is racing to ensure they're stuff is available on an app, and telling us how our lives will be improved and perfected by apps, and how if we're not writing an app we'll fall behind and become fossilized.

    You know what? Millions of people don't use smart phones, don't use an app for everything, and can conclude our normal bodily functions without relying on an app.

    I bet 99.9% of all apps are crap, or won't be around in 5 years. But, like the .com era, you can become a billionaire by saying you have an idea for an app.

    Blah blah blah .. take your damned app and get off my lawn.

    • Either as a part of someones service, or general rant apps.
    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:35PM (#48575171)

      Seriously, I'm getting tired of the endless stream of apps.

      There's a nap for that.

  • I would say this would be an optional secondary method would be neat. However, I could see people forgetting about their physical copies (and then losing them) that could naturally lead to issues when the batteries died or they travelled out of state - where they might not accept electronic copies.

    And this would be a concern about phone privacy. Because by handing it unlocked with the intent to let them view content, you're basically handing them keys to the castle for any information on you phone. Whic

  • Seems like James Duane needs to update his lecture to include not handing 128GB of personal information to a cop who is going to take it back to his car to 'verify' it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Who needs a warrant now. Yes sir I just need to take your "license" back to the police cruiser for a few minutes...
    • Great, now I gotta carry 3 phones, my work phone, my personal phone, and the government mandated identification phone. You dont need the 4th phone the "weed" phone anymore in my state, its legal in Washington. Well, if weed is your only illegal activity...

  • It's a terrible and impractical idea. There is no need for it, other than app makers and data miners trying to make more money, and the police having a new reason to take your phone. It does not improve on the present system which is already computerized.

    But more important, will there soon be laws REQUIRING people to carry a phone?

    • People will still be able to stick a traditional plastic driver's license in their wallet or purse if they choose

    • But more important, will there soon be laws REQUIRING people to carry a phone?

      You won't be required to have one.

      But it will be illegal to not have one. And it will also be illegal to not unlock it upon request from law enforcement.

      See, they're not allowed to search your phone, so if they change it so you're required to provide it to them, it's much easier.

      Especially if you're within 100 miles of the border. Then not having a phone/refusing to unlock it means they can trump up the charges to the point the

  • I have given my cell phone with insurance card image to a police officer before. Those things are sent out twice a year, and we have two cars, so ensuring both end up in both wallets in a chore. If I don't produce the card, officer will be less charitable about other circumstances of the stop and I will need to go to courthouse in person to file proof of insurance. I would imagine one's problems would multiply if he/she also forgot the driver license.

    Now, this would be an absolutely horrible thing as the on

    • If only the updated proof of insurance covered the weeks leading up to the new 6-month term instead of needing to keep 2 in the car or wallet or timing the swap out with precision.

  • I think some sort of laminated credit card sized thing with the holder's photo, licence class and serial number might fly in some states.
    Yanno, something that doesn't require a battery and can be stowed on the back side of the sunshade so your hands are always visible to a LEO with an itchy trigger finger and a nervous disposition?
    ICBW, YMMV, etc.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:28PM (#48575119)

    The Supreme Court over there recently ruled that warrantless searches on mobiles belonging to arrestees are legal. If you refuse to hand over your phone/licence in CA because of whatever's on your phone or because you fear the privacy boogeyman, they'll just arrest you and use the precedent to search your phone anyway.

    I said this shit was coming. I said it fucking years ago, even before contactless payments with iOS and RFID chips embedded in handsets.

    So fucking glad I don't have a working phone.

    • Reportage of the decision here:
      http://www.thestar.com/news/ca... [thestar.com]

      The real question to me is whether this means that a Canadian cop, once (s)he's arrested me, for some whatever infraction (running a burnt out light) could then force me to unlock my phone so (s)he can rife through it.

      If so, the Canadian police state is more fully formed than in the US.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:30PM (#48575139)

    A "license" isn't a thing--it's a right or privilege to do or not do something. The State keeps a complete record of you and the scope of your driving license at the Department of Licensing. All they need is a fingerprint, or maybe even optical recognition of your face, and they can access that data from their patrol car.

    An "app" as a "license" is just as archaic as a paper license today.

    • Or if you're driving your own car, a camera on the front of the officer's car could OCR the license plate and get the registered owner's family and their licenses all pulled up automatically. It's not like aluminum plates are cheap anyway - put a long-range RFID sticker on it when it's issued.

  • A proper implementation should be by the OS maker, though, which automatically locks the phone when the app is accessed - or in which the license/insurance/registration information can only be accessed from the home screen via a special unlock code/access which does not unlock the rest of the phone contents.

    While a super-secure app isn't really necessary for police, since they can just call in your license number and verify you're legal/in the system, for things like age verification, you'd have to add some

  • Like many apps, the Driver's License app will probably require access to your SMSes, phone call record, contacts, calendar, location, and photos for no good reason at all. You'll also need to wait in a queue for a few minutes to view your driver's license, but you can use an in-app purchase to skip the line.
  • I get that the cop can easily verify it, all he needs is your ID number and he can look you up. So there really is no need to hand him anything. But I don't see how one would make this app secure or usable as a form of ID for buying alcohol or getting entry into bar.

  • Hell, they don't even need to pull me over to search my phone. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Warrant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weiserfireman ( 917228 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:56PM (#48575383) Homepage

    This seems to be a way to get your cell phone out of your hand and into the hands of the police, without a warrant, and your permission.

    SCOTUS recently ruled that the police can't search your phone without your permission, absent a warrant. Now you get pulled over, and you have to hand your unlocked cell phone to the nice police officer, while he leaves your site and goes to his car for 5 minutes or so.

    Now he has the opportunity to see what else you might have on your phone.

    As a bonus, since he has your phone, you can't use it to record your interaction with him.

    What is wrong with the piece of plastic in my wallet? It has worked well for a long time. If my State offered it, I might add it to my phone for fun, but I would still have the wallet card to give to a police officer.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      This seems to be a way to get your cell phone out of your hand and into the hands of the police, without a warrant, and your permission.

      SCOTUS recently ruled that the police can't search your phone without your permission, absent a warrant. Now you get pulled over, and you have to hand your unlocked cell phone to the nice police officer, while he leaves your site and goes to his car for 5 minutes or so.

      Now he has the opportunity to see what else you might have on your phone.

      As a bonus, since he has your phone, you can't use it to record your interaction with him.

      What is wrong with the piece of plastic in my wallet? It has worked well for a long time. If my State offered it, I might add it to my phone for fun, but I would still have the wallet card to give to a police officer.

      Nothing in the article claims this app wouldn't work on an iPod Touch - you can get an older one for less than $100 now - keep it in your car, charged and hidden. If you don't have your license card, you show them your iPod touch. If this app doesn't work on offline devices, I'd say it's not worth installing.

      Don't install the app on the device that contains your digital life.

  • Why it is a burden of the tax payer not only to pay taxes, which are used for the systems for human and property databases, but, also, burdened with the need to have the old copy of the database record?

    Papers are the relict from medieval and industrial, pre-computer and internet era.

    Currently one only needs to identify himself and that should be enough data for any cop to pull all the databases and photos of the individual that is being detained.

    Somehow it is always the additional burden on the taxpayers th

  • I'd prefer a card and electronic version with name, photo and QR Code (with human-readable number below) that an officer could scan or type in could link to the appropriate government database that has all the rest of the info. The user could choose which to present.

    There's no reason to have a document with your address and phone number to permit driving or function as ID. Every cop car I see has a laptop and wireless access. Easy to look-up and verify.

    We'd have to figure out how to let legitimate 3rd parti

  • The comments here seem to focus on the situation that by giving your unlocked phone to a cop so he/she can see the driver's license will allow the cop to get everything on the phone. One other purpose may be to see where you've been. This may occur if the Driver's License app makes use of the GPS system on the phone so that it records your itinerary and your speed. Could you then become a suspect in a crime because you were someplace where a crime was committed even if you were totally innocent? You might a
  • HAHAHAHA. No.
    Have you not been paying attention?
  • The cop will shoot you dead while you are reaching for your cell phone....

  • I cannot imagine a circumstance where I would voluntarily hand my cellphone to a cop. I'd be FAR more likely to hide my cellphone and tell the cop I don't have one. They're far too eager to search them.

  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @05:32PM (#48576317) Homepage
    What is really amazing, and just freeking audacious to say the least, is how the IDOT is even considering doing this.

    With all the recent focus on digital privacy, etc, especially since the "outing" of the NSA via Snowden, with the protests against police brutality a la Ferguson, etc, it just amazes me that something like this would even be considered. Amazing.

    Who in their right mind would hand their unlocked cell phone to law enforcement?
    The reality is, they are always looking for something, anything, any scrap of information, or anything misconstrued or misinterpreted, to be USED AGAINST YOU.

    People keep forgetting, it doesn't matter if you haven't done anything wrong or not. That doesn't matter and never did. There are loads of Americans out there who have been "put through the ringer"(putting it mildly) by LE who were honest people who never did anything wrong.
  • What problem is this technology suppose to solve again? Do we have a use case?
  • by Hotawa Hawk-eye ( 976755 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @05:53PM (#48576549)

    Offer drivers low-cost or free phone cases with space to hold their driver's license on the back. Driver pulls their phone out of their pocket (it's likely more accessible than their wallet) and shows/hands the back of the phone to the officer.

    Offer drivers a holder that attaches via suction cups or similar mechanism to their dashboard. Find some way (driver's license doubles as an EZPass? Cops have a scanner that lets them bring up the driver's information more quickly when they stop a motorist, rather than having to take it back to their vehicle?) to encourage drivers to put their licenses in that holder while they're driving.

    The privacy and security considerations are strong arguments against turning the driver's license into an app or something similar. But if they really want a high-tech solution, working with phone manufacturers to create a lock screen app (open source, to reduce the chances of a back door) that allows a police officer to enter a code (which gets logged on the phone manufacturer's servers and should be able to be associated with the individual officer) into the lock screen to display JUST the license info, not actually unlock the phone. This would also be useful if a phone is lost, stolen, or used as part of a crime; it would allow the police to identify the owner.

  • compared to something inside the vehicle, locked possibly twice, with no means of digital nor of remote access. oh, and breaking into a car is very illegal. stealing a car even more so.

  • I worked on that product for 9 months!

    Great to see it come to reality!

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