Identity Experts Call for Mobile Driver’s License Push in the US

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Digital identity , Fraud and cybercrime management , Governance and risk management

The Biden administration should also directly help victims of impersonation

Michael Novinson, Devon Warren-Kachelein (devawarren) •
April 15, 2022

The White House (Photo: Kristina Volgenau via Unsplash)

Identity experts urged the Biden administration this week to speed up the rollout of mobile driver’s licenses and ensure victims of identity theft receive direct assistance.

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Experts said four elements need to be added to an upcoming US government executive order focused on preventing and detecting identity theft: mobile driver’s licenses; direct assistance to victims of identity theft; identity attribute validation services; and a federal digital identity framework. President Joe Biden pledged to issue the executive order on this in his March 1 State of the Union address (see: Sound Off: What shortcomings need to be addressed in the Identity Theft Executive Order?).


“These four initiatives will ensure that any EO (Executive Order) prioritizes helping Americans avoid becoming victims of identity theft, and will ensure that Americans who are victims of it can get the help they need to be healed,” the letter read. “They will reduce identity theft involving public benefits, protect privacy and civil liberties, and prevent biases that lead to disparate outcomes.”


The five-page letter was signed by the Better Identity Coalition, Identity Theft Resource Center, Electronic Transactions Association, Identity Theft Resource Center, National Cyber ​​Security Alliance, and US Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center. Better Identity Coalition Coordinator Jeremy Grant is a contributor to the Information Security Media Group and will be hosting the virtual IAM Summit next week.


Mobile driving licenses


The mobile driver’s license allows US citizens to reuse a high-insurance title they already have rather than having to go through another government-run process to obtain a new title. A number of states allow people to prove their identity using a digital mobile driver’s license app rather than a plastic ID card, which identity groups say will allow to solve the pressing problems of the digital world.


The groups urged the National Institute of Standards and Technology to release guidance to accelerate the deployment of mobile driver’s license applications that US citizens can use to assert and protect their identity online. The US government should give grants to states to help them accelerate their rollout of mobile driver’s license apps, with at least 10% of the grants going to people who can’t easily get ID.


Federal and state governments can leverage mobile driver’s licenses to enable more reliable digital services, reduce fraudulent benefit claims and protect citizen information, the groups said. Mobile driver’s licenses could have been used to securely and remotely verify the identity of people applying for benefits, which would have prevented the vast majority of fraud at the start of COVID-19.


“Solving identity verification will require the same shift – moving people away from knowledge-based solutions to ones that create a digital equivalent of the secure plastic ID cards they have in their wallets,” the groups write in the letter.


Assistance for victims of identity theft


There is currently no official local, state, or federal infrastructure designed to support victims of identity-related crimes, with the Federal Trade Commission providing online self-service rather than direct assistance to victims. The Identity Theft Resource Center alone helps victims of identity crime free of charge, working with more than 3,900 reported victims of benefit-related identity fraud in 2020 and 2021.


Victims of identity crimes should have access to direct, free assistance available digitally, in person or by phone, the groups said. Governmental and non-governmental organizations should receive adequate funding to offer victim assistance on a scale commensurate with this volume and speed of identity crimes, and a public-private “one-stop shop” should be developed for victims identity crimes.


“Providing only digital services results in a significant portion of the victim population being denied assistance due to lack of access, lack of skills, or lack of capacity,” write the groups in the letter.


Other Ways to Validate Identity


Although less powerful than mobile driver’s licenses, the groups said services that provide a “yes/no” answer to whether a person’s submitted name, date of birth and social security number match what that a federal agency has on file can enhance identity protection. The administration should create a unified approach to allocating validation services that allows access to them with uniform fees and conditions.


The electronic consent-based Social Security Number Verification service allows financial institutions to validate identity information against Social Security Agency data, helping to combat synthetic identity fraud. As a side benefit, it has helped tens of thousands of credit applications get approved that might otherwise have been rejected due to insufficient proof of identity, according to identity experts.


In addition, the General Services Administration has announced its intention to create a service allowing identity verification against authoritative government sources. However, the GSA’s Identity Verification API will not be available to the private sector, according to the letter.


“Identity attribute validation services thus help to combat fraud and improve inclusion,” the groups write. “[These] can help address identity theft issues in both public and private sector applications – and Americans are at risk of identity theft and fraud in both.”


Finally, identity experts urge NIST to help the government establish attribute validation and other digital identity services in a way that is standardized and sets a high bar for security, privacy, and compliance. equity. The framework should serve as a guide for federal, state, and local governments to follow when providing services to support digital identity verification.


“We appreciate the administration’s review of our application and offer the collective expertise of our organizations if assistance proves helpful in drafting the EO,” the letter concludes.

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