Mobile IDs: Will They Make Fake IDs Irrelevant?

Many industries are touting mobile IDs as the future of identity verification. According to The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), mobile IDs, specifically mobile driver’s licenses, have many advantages over physical ones that make it easier to verify the legitimacy of the ID.

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If you’re a teenager with a fake ID or you’re looking to get one, this might seem like bad news. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There is a silver lining despite all this new technology popping up. Let’s explore why you shouldn’t mourn the end of your clubbing days just yet.

How Mobile IDs Verify Your Identity?

The AAMVA says that mobile IDs are the future. Mobile IDs have only been around for a short while and news outlets are already stating that they will make it easier to crack down on fake IDs – but how much of that is true?

The reason many are confident in mobile IDs is because the technology behind them allows for easier verification methods over physical IDs, such as:

  1. Real-time updates on the ID (expiration dates, pictures, signatures, etc.)
  2. Cryptographic verification
  3. Control over data that gets verified
  4. Data encryption

The biggest advantage is cryptographic verification. Because mobile IDs can visually be faked with phone apps or Photoshop, institutions need a better way of verifying identities that complies with AAMVA, ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and ICAO (The International Civil Aviation Organization) standards, such as e-signatures, barcodes, and QR codes.

Apple unveiled a new feature in their wallet app in 2022 which stored information of driver’s licenses. To support this, Arizona became the first state followed by Colorado and Maryland. California DMV has been working on digital id since early 2021.

The way it works is that the government issuer creates a unique data code that gets scanned whenever the mobile ID is verified. Without the government-issued code, the mobile ID is considered inauthentic.

Many U.S. states have developed their own mobile ID apps, and various big companies are getting in on the hype. This includes Apple, which has worked closely with the ISO to develop a digital version of a driver’s license on the Apple Wallet.

If you go to your phone’s app store, you’ll find several digital ID verification apps. As mobile IDs become more popular, there will no doubt be new technology developed that makes them harder to fake.

Why Mobile IDs Don’t Threaten Fake IDs

Despite all this, you shouldn’t worry about fake IDs becoming obsolete. You’ll still be able to buy fake IDs and make all sorts of purchases with them, even as mobile IDs rise in popularity.

That’s because, in truth, mobile IDs aren’t as perfect as people would have you believe. We’re still far from a future in which they do away with fake IDs. As a matter of fact, they may just usher in a new way for teens to buy weed and book hotel rooms. Here are reasons why mobile IDs are no threat to fake IDs:

1. Digital Verification Methods Are Less Secure

Mobile IDs are verified on—you guessed it—mobile phones! There are some cases in which they get verified using the same barcode scanners used for physical IDs, but verification apps may become a more common verification method, especially for private entities like bars and liquor stores. This means that, for now, mobile verification methods are mostly digital.

Digital verification methods are simply less secure than the more varied methods used to verify physical IDs. There are multiple ways of verifying a physical ID, such as:

  • White light scanning
  • UV light scanning
  • IR light scanning
  • Hologram scanning
  • Scanning for format or design inconsistencies
  • ID thickness
  • Color variations

Verification apps can’t scan or test any of the above identifiers. Private businesses, especially those involving alcohol sales, need to protect themselves from distributing adult substances and content to minors. Spotting fake physical IDs is something that employees of these private businesses have been trained to do extensively.

Having an actual person verify an ID is a lot more reliable than having an app do it, so private business owners will be less inclined to adopt the mobile ID method.

2. Technology For Fake Mobile IDs Will Get Better

Mobile IDs and ID verification apps will become more complex in the future as the capabilities of our mobile devices increases. This means there will be more reliable ways to authenticate mobile IDs.

However, as the technology for authentic IDs gets better, the technology for fake mobile IDs will get better too. The need to verify your identity through digital means may slowly create a market for fake mobile IDs that are just as convincing as fake physical IDs. This could be in the form of apps that generate unique QR codes or APKs that help you modify the data in mobile ID apps.

Just be sure that when the technology is there, you don’t abuse it. Depending on how far the technology advances, people may feel confident enough to bypass government institutions using fake digital IDs. However, government entities will also have their own ways to verify, so we may see a wave of people get caught for falsifying digital IDs before the technology becomes more accessible.

It Will Take Time For Mobile IDs To Become Standard

Just because the government is encouraging people to use mobile IDs, that doesn’t mean that you can no longer use fake physical IDs. Just like debit cards have yet to fully replace cash, mobile IDs will not replace physical IDs.

Mobile IDs are simply another way to verify identity, but they won’t be the only way. As a matter of fact, it will take a while for mobile IDs to become a widespread form of identification, so handing over a physical ID at your local liquor store won’t raise any eyebrows.

Mobile IDs are still a relatively new thing, and it takes time to develop a functional system in which they work. States need to develop the software, employ proper security measures, and roll out the service slowly.

Non-governmental institutions may take a long time to start accepting mobile IDs, either due to a lack of funding for the software, managerial disputes, or a lack of trust in digital IDs. So, by the time mobile IDs become widespread, you may not even need a fake ID.

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