Apple wants iPhone to be proof of identity and replace passports

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple has considered the possibility of using the iPhone as a form of identification for the user, with one proposed onboard secure storage system using RFID having the potential to use a smartphone as an alternative to a passport for travelers at ports.




Filed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on March 30 and published on Thursday, the patent application for "Document importation into secure element" describes how such a system could import credential data from a source. The same credentials could then be provided to an authority challenging the identity of the device owner as a form of proof.

The described electronic device has a short-range radio, namely RFID or NFC, and a secure element for holding data, as well as the ability to process data. Using RFID, the device acquires a "portion of credential information" from an identification document issued by an authority, such as a driving license or a membership card.

Once acquired, the device then issues a radio-based request to the issuing authority, triggering the authority to request the required credential portion. Once delivered then approved by the authority, the device then stores the acquired credentials in a secure element.




In future identification challenges, the device will be asked for the credentials by the authority, triggering the device to perform an authentication check with the user. While this could be as simple as entering a password, there is also a version that uses biometric security for the device-based authentication.

In either case, successful authentication on the device would hand over data to the requesting party.

The patent application also cites the growing use of e-Passports, which includes a chip that stores an assortment of data about a user, including their name and date of birth, which can be used by customs officials to determine the user is who they say they are. Apple suggests the described system could potentially hand over a passport number or other similar data, to perform the same check.

While in most cases the patent application suggests the use of not-yet-produced hardware, in this case the components are already in place, in the form of the iPhone. It already has radio-based communications with NFC, an encrypted secure enclave that holds fingerprint and facial map data for Touch ID and Face ID respectively, and biometric-based authentication systems.

Such a system could be used by private companies, for example in authenticating employees entering a facility, but while the suggestion for the passport number is plausible, legislation becomes the stumbling block.

As travelers are required to carry their passport with them while moving across a country's borders, users would still need to carry the document with them, even if this style of system was enabled. For it to work without carrying the passport at all, Apple would need the backing of countries on both sides of a border to allow an iPhone to become a replacement passport.

Apple files a large number of patent applications to the USPTO every week, but it is not a guarantee the submitted ideas will make their way into commercial products. Even if most of the components required for it to work are already in place.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 271member
    Okay, you have your ID/Passport on your phone. In order to show it you have to unlock your phone with FaceID. FaceID is a much more accurate process than what the border guard uses when they compare your passport photo with what you look like. Effectively the act of unlocking your phone is a more accurate, higher security, check than what the border guard does. I think this is an idea worth pursuing.
    edited August 9 rob53watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 71
    Governments will never allow this to happen. Not without a huge struggle for Apple.
    ps: you’re screwed if you need to proof your identity and your battery’s empty.
    macplusplus
  • Reply 3 of 71
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 605member
    The passport as we know it may not last another 10 years but I see no reason to replace it just yet. Current passports are extremely accurate and I would not want to miss my flight coming or going due to a software bug. Yes as we seen in spy movies fake passports are supposedly easy to obtain (lol) but people with those resources would most likely have no problem getting around the tech of a mobile phone passport. 
    JWSC
  • Reply 4 of 71
    seankillseankill Posts: 426member
    I see a problem with this idea. To view the passport, you will unlock your phone, breaking your security measures. You are forced to identify yourself with your phone and risking the phone being confiscated without a security measure. Further, don’t forget software and battery concerns, I will stick to the old fashion method on this one. No battery, no software, always works unless stolen. 
    gatorguyjbdragonmuthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwichtallest skilboltsfan17
  • Reply 5 of 71
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 158member
    This will never happen. Globally the world is not technologically or culturally ready for this. What’s ultimately more likely is for us to not have passports at all, and be identified biometrically on a database. Not saying I would like that to happen, but that is the more likely end goal.
  • Reply 6 of 71
    plovellplovell Posts: 784member
    The paper passport isn't going away anytime soon. The US has a "passport card" (credit-card size) but that's accepted ONLY for land-border crossings to Canada and Mexico. You still need your paper passport for a flight to those countries. The machine-readable (printed) and chip-based RFID things don't count - these are supplements and not replacements for the human-readable things. And those are not going away for a long, long time. If ever.
    llamamacplusplus
  • Reply 7 of 71
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,239member
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    rob53boxcatcher
  • Reply 8 of 71
    croprcropr Posts: 840member
    Governments are in full control of the issuing and controlling passports ans should remain as such in the future. 

    A system which stores passport details and which is locked in a secured environment can only be accepted by a government if the manufacturer gives that government full control to that secured environment. I assume that Apple is not willing to do that.  I understand that point of view, but for a government it is unacceptable that the control of passports depends on the technology of a private company. 

    Paper passports have their value. Too many things are unclear with the new idea:

     - How can a government disable a passport? Can this be done remotely?  If it can, how can we avoid abuse?
     - What would happen if a government gets a serious dispute with the manufacturer? 
     - What would happen if the secured environment would be hacked and the manufacturer "forgot" to tell the government in time?
     - How does a foreign country can put in a stamp in the passport? 
     - How do we cope with multiple passports (one for Israel and one for the Arab countries)?



    ElCapitanmuthuk_vanalingamllama
  • Reply 9 of 71
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    duh
  • Reply 10 of 71
    seankill said:
    I see a problem with this idea. To view the passport, you will unlock your phone, breaking your security measures. You are forced to identify yourself with your phone and risking the phone being confiscated without a security measure. Further, don’t forget software and battery concerns, I will stick to the old fashion method on this one. No battery, no software, always works unless stolen. 
    Not necessarily. I don’t have to unlock my phone to use Apple Pay, but I still verify my identity with Face ID. 

    It it could work similarly to that method. Double click the sleep/wake button and then swipe to passport, verify to let it show the credentials. 
    JWSCicoco3llamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 71
    I am sure they do, but I believe the governments around the world are better left to issue, control and withdraw passports, and not leave it to a US based company. 

    Apple need to stick a finger in the ground and get back to what they used to do; design and manufacture computers people used to desire. 
    edited August 9 muthuk_vanalingammacplusplus
  • Reply 12 of 71
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    Same here. I’d be much happier if my driver’s license went digital than if my passport did. 

    It seems like that would be much simpler to initiate, in the US anyway. 
    JWSCcurtis hannahwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 71
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 213member
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    Been doing that for a couple years now - except that my "Ninja pouch" affixed to the back of my iPhone also needs to hold a credit card - for the many places that still don't take Apple Pay - and my Costco card - because Costco refuses to join the modern age :-(
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 71
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,865member
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    Like the Passport, maybe even more so, having your driver license on your phone means you are in effect unlocking your phone and giving it to the police, and like the normal license, bringing it back to their car and they run it. But now they can just go through everything on your phone. After all you unlocked it and freely gave it to the police. No warrant needed now. Your privacy has just gone out the window. If you don't think the police wouldn't go through your phone looking for anything, you're fooling yourself.
  • Reply 15 of 71
    ElCapitan said:
    I am sure they do, but I believe the governments around the world are better left to issue, control and withdraw passports, and not leave it to a US based company. 
    What part of the article makes you believe Apple would be issuing, controlling and withdrawing passports? It clearly states the credentials would be verified by “an authority”. Apple is simply putting forth a system to make digital passports viable. 

    Think of it in the same way as Apple Pay works. Apple doesn’t issue the credit cards or debit cards, that’s still the job of the banks or CC issuers. The transactions aren’t handled by Apple, either, your iPhone just facilitates the transaction. 
    edited August 9 JWSClibertyforallwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 71
    jbdragon said:
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    Like the Passport, maybe even more so, having your driver license on your phone means you are in effect unlocking your phone and giving it to the police, and like the normal license, bringing it back to their car and they run it. But now they can just go through everything on your phone. After all you unlocked it and freely gave it to the police. No warrant needed now. Your privacy has just gone out the window. If you don't think the police wouldn't go through your phone looking for anything, you're fooling yourself.
    Nope. As I mentioned above, it can work like Apple Pay where I don’t unlock my iPhone but still verify my identity with Face ID. 
    JWSCicoco3llamaboxcatcherwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 71
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,172member
    How about starting by replacing drivers licenses with something digital? My health insurance card is now digital. The only reason I still carry a wallet is for my drivers license.
    Same here. I’d be much happier if my driver’s license went digital than if my passport did. 

    It seems like that would be much simpler to initiate, in the US anyway. 
    Yup. I would love this. I wish my company ID were on my phone too. This would solve so many problems, and I could stop carrying a wallet at all eventually.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 71
    cropr said:

     - How can a government disable a passport? Can this be done remotely?  If it can, how can we avoid abuse?
     - What would happen if a government gets a serious dispute with the manufacturer? 
     - What would happen if the secured environment would be hacked and the manufacturer "forgot" to tell the government in time?
     - How does a foreign country can put in a stamp in the passport? 
     - How do we cope with multiple passports (one for Israel and one for the Arab countries)?
    1: By not verifying when the credentials are requested. 

    2: I’m not sure why this is an issue. 

    3: That remains to be seen. What happens if someone forges a passport now?

    4: It doesn’t need to be “stamped”, instead can list where you have been approved to enter, time and date noted. 

    5: Same as we cope with multiple credit cards. 
    JWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 71
    Apple's iPhone will never get that honor of being a substitute for a passport. There aren't enough iPhones in the world to make such a thing possible. Smartphones running Android OS have a much better chance because there are more of them. Besides, there are too many anti-Apple factions in the world who would never allow such a thing to take place. The current passport will be around for a long time to come, although it may see a lot of digital improvements.
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